By Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi
The Arab Tourism Organization (ATO) signed a cooperation protocol with Egypt’s Tourism Promotion Authority to train workers in the tourism sector in e-marketing in order to increase hotel bookings, said Hossam Darwish, the official responsible for e-marketing.
The organisation aims to establish 30 training courses over the coming year for hotels and corporate officials, he added, aiming to raise the level of marketing services and patterns of tourism in Egypt.
Darwish noted that electronic bookings in Egypt account for approximately 7% of total incoming tourist traffic, a tiny fraction in comparison to other countries, where the percentage of mobile phone reservations can reach up to 70%.
According to the official, these electronic bookings represent approximately 14% of the total tourism revenues annually.
Tourism revenues in Egypt fell to $5.9bn, decreasing 41% from 2012, which saw $10bn in tourism revenue, according to an accounting unit at the Ministry of Tourism.
Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou said: “We are looking to use e-marketing in Egyptian tourism in order to reach new markets as well as a broader swath of population segments, including various age groups and income levels.”
The Ministry of Tourism has signed a cooperation protocol with Visa for electronic payments in order to market Egypt in the countries considered its primary tourism markets.
According to the minister, the number of visitors to the Egypt website setup with Visa was approximately 8 million, and they are aiming to push this to 100 million over the coming year, with the goal of 2% to 4% of these visitors making bookings for Egypt.
Tarek Al-Husseini, Visa’s regional manager for North and West Africa, explained that Egypt has great potential for tourism. This needs to be exploited, he added, through modern e-technology, and the cooperation protocol is a move in this direction.
Despite the presence of e-marketing in a majority of Egyptian hotels and tourism companies, there is a dearth of experience in this area, according to Darwish. “Marketing to Egypt lacks expertise and relies on individuals without a vision or foreign language skills, particularly English.”
International hotel management companies in Egypt are better at marketing their hotels in Egypt than their domestic competitors. However, they do not exclusively market their hotels located in Egypt, but rather those all over the world.
Darwish called for the establishment of Egyptian companies for marketing both domestically and abroad. “Egyptians are the best equipped to do this, as they have complete knowledge of the resources at their disposal,” he said.