Cultural tourism declines against coastal tourism in Egypt

Daily News Egypt
5 Min Read
An Egyptian camel owner waits for customers as tourists visit the Giza pyramids, south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, on October 1, 2012. AFP PHOTO/KHALED DESOUKI

By Maydaa Abo El-Nadar

Over the past year, Egypt’s tourism industry brought in $7.3bn and 9.9 million tourists, compared to the $5.9bn in 2013.

The tourist income over the first half of this year reached $3.3bn, compared to $3.2bn over the same period last year. The Ministry of Tourism allocated 25% of its promotional campaign in favour of tourism in Luxor and Aswan, as the number of cultural tourists visiting Egypt has decreased over the last four years. The percentage of cultural tourists does not exceed 5% of the total number of tourists visiting Egypt annually.

Tharwat Agamy, Head of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association in the Southern Valley, said the number of tourists who have visited Egypt’s monuments over this year has decreased by approximately 30%-40%. He said that the shortage of marketing for cultural tourism in Egypt was one of the reasons behind this decline.

Hossam El-Bortokaly, Managing Director of marketing agency Nexters Team, agreed with Agamy, commenting that “cultural tourism in Egypt needed to be marketed for as a tale, not as a stone”.

In other words, marketing for cultural tourism in Egypt lacks creativity, he said. In order to attract more cultural tourists, we need not only to tell the story of certain monumental sites, we need to keep in mind what really attracts the tourist, to be able to compete with tourism in other countries, he added. This is especially with the emergence of 3D technologies that will make the story telling even easier, he noted.

The Hungarian Ambassador to Egypt, Peter Kveck, previously told Daily News Egypt: “Unfortunately, Hungarians do not know much about the different Egyptian cities yet. For that reason, I am always asking the Minister of Tourism to raise Hungarians’ awareness about the touristic beauty of Egypt, through organising tourism presentations and proactive marketing campaigns in Hungary.”

“Through this, we can very easily raise the number of Hungarian tourists visiting Egypt to 100,000 tourists a year, and even more instead of 50,000 to 60,000 Hungarian tourists, which is their current number now,” Kveck added.

Agamy added that the number of tourists who visit coastal cities is far higher than the number of tourists interested in visiting Egypt’s many monumental. Tourists visiting Egypt are more interested in visiting the Red Sea, with visits to Luxor and Aswan mainly one-day visits.

Kveck commented that approximately 50,000 to 60,000 Hungarian tourists prefer visiting the Red Sea annually, mainly heading to Hurghada and the Red Sea resorts, meaning that Hungarian tourism in Egypt is more coastal than cultural.

Kveck expressed his desire to raise his countrymen’s awareness of Egypt’s other touristic attractions, as they should know that Egypt is much more than Hurghada. He added that spreading cultural tourism in Egypt means spreading awareness around Central and Eastern Europe, as countries in this region have similar cultures.

Regarding Egypt’s political instability and its impact on cultural tourism, Agamy added that the number of cultural tourists has decreased due to this, thus there is no demand on charter flights.

Kveck also previously pointed out that despite the 25 January Revolution, Luxor is still a safe destination for tourists. But due to the negative media coverage surrounding the country, tourists avoided heading to Luxor in the past few years. Egypt should be more active in its international advertising, which is the key to improving the country’s image abroad.

Many experts in the tourism sector also commented that tourism in Luxor and Aswan should be marketed separately from Cairo, to increase the number of tourists visiting the monuments.

Agamy was, however, optimistic, commenting that the Ministry of Tourism is planning to increase the number of cultural tourists by October. The ministry is also working on resolving the issue of low demand on charter flights.

Also optimistic, Kveck told Daily News Egypt that in May, WizzAir initiated its first direct flight from Budapest to Hurghada. This will be a regular weekly flight, with the potential to increase it to two or three flights weekly.

Increasing this flight’s frequency will depend on the Hungarian market as well as that of neighbouring countries, with potential passengers expected from Austria and Slovakia as well. Kveck expressed his desire to see direct flights from Budapest to Sharm El-Sheikh soon.

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