SHARM EL-SHEIKH: General Mohamed Hany Metwally, the Governor of South Sinai, opened the inaugural session of the Hotel Information Program, the first educational seminar in Egypt on the importance of the Internet for the tourism sector. It is part of the USAID project While In Egypt Stay Connected , which stems from the vital role the tourism sector plays in pushing the wheel of development, enhancing and boosting the national economy, and most of all, generating job opportunities for Egyptians.
The Hotel Information Program is the result of a number of studies carried out to create solutions to further enhance the tourism sector in Egypt, and make Egypt more connected to the world. The program was designed in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Hotel Association. Together, they collaborated to create this touring educational seminar to inform Egypt’s 3, 4, and 5-star hotel operators about the importance of the Internet in tourism today, in addition to the New Norms required by the Ministry of Tourism.
“We believe that the development of the tourism sector through complying with global standards and mechanisms is crucial. We believe that Internet services are one key step amongst many steps needed to further advance this vital sector. The aim is to provide wireless Internet services everywhere in Egypt, to add to the existing wired Internet services that are already widely available, said Ismail Abaza, senior tourism advisor to the project. “We are initially launching the Hotel Information Program in major tourist areas, with the aim to helping tourists ‘stay connected’ while visiting Egypt. Internet access enables them to stay in touch with family and friends back home, find online information for vacation planning and activities, and so much more.
Starting in Sharm El-Sheikh on April 16, the hotel information seminar will travel to seven major tourist areas through to late May: Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor, Aswan, Taba, Alexandria, and Cairo. The program’s agenda includes the most prominent Internet-related companies that provide web design, Internet, and communications solutions. These companies will showcase cutting-edge programs and services, with special offers for the participating hotels. One example is the provision of floating hotels with state-of-the-art technology to stay connected to the Internet while navigating between Luxor and Aswan.
“Through these seminars, we are encouraging hotels to adopt the latest Internet technology to gain a new competitive edge and to meet global hotel standards, said Abaza. “The program has two primary aims. The first aim is to encourage hotels to get connected by installing high-speed Internet, not just in business centers but also in the hotel rooms. The second aim is for hotels to get visible by creating a website, which eventually should be followed by providing online booking service to attract the new traveler that plans and books via the Internet.”
“These new travelers can further help fill the hotel occupancy gap, given that the income of the Internet customer is nearly double the income of any regular customer, according to the latest international statistics,” emphasized Abaza. “It is also noteworthy that a number of Egyptian banks are providing e-payment services.
The program is funded by the US Agency for International Development and sponsored by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.