By Abdelrazik Al-Shweikhy
The first half of the current year saw a moderate revival in the tourism sector. According Mounir Abdel-Nour, Minister of Tourism, the first six months of 2012 witnessed the arrival of 5.2 million tourists, 27% more than the same period in the previous year, Tourists this year reserved 60.4 million nights in hotels, up 41% from the first half of 2011.
The Minister stated in a press conference that the rising tourism figures confirms that the Egyptian tourism sector had recovered in a number of primary foreign markets, particularly in Russia (up 79%), Poland (66%), Germany (33%), the Netherlands (30%), Switzerland (30%), Norway (101%), and Denmark (71%). Tourism from Middle Eastern countries was up 36%.
Abdel-Nour noted that some markets continued to decline. Tourism from the United Kingdom was down 7%, a decline, which the Minister attributed to the travel agency Thomas Cook reducing the number of trips to Egypt. Based on current numbers, the Minister expects 12 million tourists to visit Egypt in 2012, but that continued arrivals depend on the security situation.
Hisham Zarour, an official at the Ministry of Tourism, said that the government is currently in talks with the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, the Arab Investment Bank, and the Bank of Alexandria for funding to turn Sharm El-Sheikh into a green city.
The total investment cost of the project is expected to reach EGP 1.3billion, with the private sector as well as the Ministry of Tourism and international bodies shouldering the cost.
The Minister said that hotels would pay for 50% of the €10,000 price tag for new power generators with the Ministry of Tourism paying €1,000 and the Egyptian Chamber of Hotels’ Facilities will pay €3,000.
Abdel-Nour added that the Ministry of Tourism held several meetings with the Ministry of Electricity to discuss methods to reduce hotel energy consumption by 20% within three years. Hotels consumed EGP 1billion worth of energy last year.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Tourism held several meetings with Airline companies, included Egypt Air, Air Cairo, and AMC airlines to discuss expanding stimulus programmes for airlines in order to attract more tourism.
“The government provided EGP 160m in subsidies for airlines last year,” said Abdel-Nour, noting that every dollar spent to subsidise airlines in Hurghada resulted in $17 spent in Sharm El-Sheikh.