Number of tourists reaches 9 million in 2006
CAIRO: The Ministry of Tourism (MOT) is now finalizing its re-planning of the North Coast ahead of launching an international marketing campaign in February to draw investment to the area, Minister of Tourism Zohair Garana said Thursday.
Abandoned areas of the North Coast have been plagued for years by illegitimate claims of ownership which have hindered the government s development efforts. Garana said MOT has finished sorting out the claims and is prepared to offer tourism project tenders under build-own-operate terms or via direct land sales for development.
The minister s announcement came one day after his office released final sector numbers for 2006. According to the report, Egypt received 9 million tourists, compared with 8.6 million attracted in 2005. Sector revenues reached $7.6 billion (LE 43.3 billion), and the number of nights spent amounted to 89.3 million, up 11.8 percent and 5 percent from the previous year, respectively.
Garana said the North Coast plan will play a major part of his ministry s efforts to increase the number of tourists to 12 million by 2010 and 16 million by 2015.
Outside of selling 6.3 million square meters in Sidi Abdel-Rahman to Emaar Misr for the development of the $10 billion Marasi project, a 3,000 room resort, tourism project announcements along the North Coast have been limited in 2006.
The Red Sea, once again, attracted the majority of investments including the $2 billion Serrenia to be developed by Shaheen Group of Jordan and a $16 billion
resort to be developed by Demac of the United Arab Emirates. Both projects will be located near Hurghada.
But analysts fear the government is paying too much attention to attracting investment to the sector, relative to its efforts to attract tourists.
HC Brokerage Tourism Analyst Germaine Benyamin said more needs to be done to market Egypt as a prime destination.
Overall, Benyamin says the continuing construction boom, especially in the tourism industry is already resulting in an oversupply of rooms relative to the number of tourists visiting the country every year.
Already there are 131,000 rooms under construction. Occupancy rates are around 80 percent of the current stock of 148,000 rooms, according to HC. Benyamin says the figure of rooms under construction does not include recently announced projects such as Serrenia and Sidi Abdel Rahman s Marasi.