By Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi
Hotel occupancy rates on the North Coast have risen to 70% with the completion of end-of-year exams, according to Anthony Ghazal, Board Member of the Egyptian Chamber of Hotels.
Ghazal said that inbound tourism in this part of the country is largely from domestic visitors, with only a small percentage of foreigners, with summer remaining the primary tourism season.
He added that the average rate for a room in a 5-star hotel ranges between EGP 1200 and EGP 2000 per night. The rates for 4-star and 3-star hotels range from EGP 700 to EGP 1200.
According to the Chamber of Hotels, the total capacity for the North Coast region is 4000 rooms, with 50% of that located in Marsa Matruh, which includes 5-star hotels.
Occupancy drops to less than 20% during winter months given the colder climate, according to Ghazal.
Hotel occupancy is expected to decline during the first week of Ramadan to about 15%, but is expected to rebound gradually to 40% before the end of the month.
Ghazal sees promising occupancy over the coming year, predicting a good season with rates better than those seen over the past three years.
Tourism traffic to Egypt over the past year declined to 9 million tourists, compared to 11.5 million during 2012, which led to revenue losses of $5.9bn and a 41% decline.
The General Authority for Tourism Development is working to restore tourism inflows from Europe to the region. A particular focus is the Italian market, which prefers visiting Marsa Matruh and Marsa Alam, according to Ahmed Shoukry, head of International Tourism at the Ministry of Tourism.
According to Shoukry, European tourism is important to the country, representing around 72% of total incoming tourism annually.
In Europe, 15 countries issued travel warnings to citizens travelling to Egypt after the bombing of a tourist bus in Taba in mid-February. This encouraged the ministry to focus on marketing tourist areas in the Red Sea, Marsa Matruh, and Alexandria, presenting them as quiet areas far from any security-related issues, said Shoukry.