By Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi
The Ministry of Tourism has launched an international campaign in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to attract a larger demographic of their citizens to visit Egypt this summer, said Ahmed Shoukry, head of International Tourism at the Ministry of Tourism.
He anticipates the number of Arabs visiting Egypt by the end of the year to reach approximately 2 million tourists.
The Ministry of Tourism launched the “Wahashtona,” or “We Miss You” campaign at the beginning of May to attract Saudis and Emiratis to visit the cities of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh during the summer.
The price of an airline ticket for one person to spend four nights in the cities of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada on the Red Sea coast ranges between $400-$450.
According to statements made by Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou to the press, the number of Saudi tourists who visited Egypt from January through the beginning of May was approximately 98,000.
Shoukry said that although the ministry hopes to attract 2 million tourists by the end of the year, he wishes to see a return to the same numbers reached in 2010 when Arab tourists exceeded 2.5 million arrivals.
According to the Sub-Accounts Unit of the Ministry of Tourism, out of a total 9 million tourists to Egypt last year, the total number of Arabs that visited Egypt reached 1.8 million.
However, one official from the Egyptian Chamber of Tourism Establishments felt that the goal of attracting 2 million tourists was unlikely to be achieved: “Despite improved political relations between Egypt and the Arab Gulf countries, Arabs will not flock to Egypt this year, especially as the holy month of Ramadan comes at the height of the summer season.”
According to the official, who preferred to remain anonymous, the summer season represents the height of Arab tourism to Egypt, especially to Cairo and Alexandria where Arabs prefer to spend their holidays enjoying hotel concerts.
According to the Sub-Accounts Unit, Arab tourists from the Gulf typically stay in Egypt for 10 nights at a time and visit a minimum of three times in one year.
Average spending for Arab tourists amounts to approximately $100 per night, whereas the average spending for Europeans is less than $70.