CAIRO: Despite a 60-70 percent decrease in occupancy during this season, Marriott remains committed to the Egyptian market.
With leisure travel battering the hotel’s business in resort destinations like Sharm El-Sheikh, the Marriott still has plans for their Egyptian venues, which they view as timeless destinations.
By going forward with ongoing projects and making adjustments to adapt to current conditions, Ed Fuller, president and managing director of Marriott said he has faith in Egypt’s future.
“With Egypt of all countries, you have to look on the long term, this is a country of 7000 years of civilization,” he said.
Marriott has five projects ongoing in the country, with three of them currently active.
“One of our projects is the new courtyard at JW Marriott in Cairo, which is due to open sometime next year,” he said.
According to Fuller, these projects are not the only ventures the company is eyeing.
“We have no intention of not seeking other opportunities in Egypt,” he added.
Arne Sorenson, Marriott chief executive, who made a special, yet symbolic trip to Egypt this week pointed out that the current situation in Egypt cannot just be dealt with promotional activity or marketing.
“On some level, it’s about the individual tourist, how they see Egypt, we can’t put it on sale at the moment,” he said. “We probably need to see six months of stability in the country in order to see tourism and business come back,” said Sorensen.
In order to adjust to the decline in business, Marriott had to give some management time off as well as move associates to other hotels in the region.
Marriott’s Renaissance and Courtyard hotels as well as JW have recently teamed up with Visa, by offering special discounts to Visa cardholders who use their cards as the method of payment.
While Marriott’s offer is open to all nationalities, they will be collaborating with Visa to promote Egypt as part of the company’s marketing campaigns.
Marriott also launched a new promotional package called “Celebrate 25” in honor of the January 25 Revolution, which gives customers discounts based on how long and how many rooms they book.
With the perks that this package has to offer, the Marriott hopes to make visitors’ trips to Egypt as memorable as possible.
According to Ghada Abdel Khalek, Marriott’s director of marketing and communications, Marriott staff from all over the world has helped with this new campaign, which is also being promoted in major European cities as well as the Gulf countries.
“People around the world are excited to see new changes after Egypt’s revolution,” she said. “Now we see Egyptians uniting to bring back tourism and to bring back these guests who they’ve grown accustomed to seeing in Egypt.”
Sorenson expects that the tourism industry will bounce back very soon after the political situation in the country becomes more clear.
“Stability is what travelers need to see, if people see protests or unrest, it will be a risk factor that will cause them to stay away,” he said.
Despite the setbacks the tourism industry has witnessed, Sorenson is very optimistic about the country’s outlook and believes that the recent events could encourage visitors from all over the world to come see a “new” Egypt.
“If the story of the new Egypt becomes exciting, rather than chaotic, this will make people want to come back and it will mean a lot for the country in the future.”
“The best thing is Egypt has always been a compelling place to go,” he added. “Right now, it is OK to go to Egypt, it is not unsafe, and it’s not a place you can stop visiting.”
Egypt’s tourism sector, which is among the country’s main sources of foreign currency, has lost about $1 billion as of April, according to the Minister of Finance.
In April, foreign reserves fell to $28.0 billion, the lowest in four years.