In the wake of the decline in tourism, the Egyptian Ministry of Sports and several sports federations have begun to boost tourism by organising international championships in Egypt, especially in touristic areas such as El-Gouna, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism.
This year is full of prestigious sporting events. On 1 July, Egypt will organise the Under-19 Basketball World Cup; and in August, the country will host the Under-18 Volleyball World Cup as well. Furthermore, there was a lot of participation from the private sector in organising sports events, such as El-Gouna tournaments, Minister of Youth and Sports Khaled Abdel-Aziz told Daily News Egypt.
He said that “we want to turn El-Gouna tournaments into Egypt’s Roland-Garros of squash.” He added, “In Egypt we could organise more than one squash tournament during the same month. For example, we can have one in Aswan and another one in Alexandria; the biggest one will be in El Gouna, so that the player who comes to Egypt can play three or four tournaments during his visit to Egypt. That’s how it is done everywhere.”
He explained that El-Gouna must be a “squash destination” so that every squash player who wants to be a world champion has to come here three or four times, which is what is being done now in the junior league (players under 19).
Samih Sawiris, the founder and chairperson of Orascom Development, suggested that the authorities should lobby to list squash as an Olympics game and use the minister’s good relations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to achieve that, as it would guarantee Egypt several Olympics medals.
Abdel-Aziz explained that any addition to the sports infrastructure in Egypt will have a positive impact on the country and its economy, especially when it’s done by the private sector, as the state can’t afford to organise such huge events or establish sports clubs.
“We will focus on youth centres and will facilitate the private sector efforts to achieve such a target, by giving them lands needed and registering these clubs within their relevant sports association,” Abdel-Aziz added.
He added that the success of both sports and tourism is based on youth, so if we focused on these sectors, we will increase our gross domestic product (GDP) and create various job opportunities. El-Gouna tournaments should be taken as an example of how to manage and establish a successful sports event, which should be applied in every other sport, he said. The ministry cooperated with the Squash Association when the first El-Gouna tournament started, as the prizes exceeded the capabilities of the sponsors at the time. “We have participated with the needed fund until the tournament can fully sustain its expenses. This year, we didn’t have to provide any financial support to the tournament.”
He concluded that with the success, reputation, and influence already established by the tournament, which became a very important sports destination, allowed the country to gain various benefits, such as the establishment of sports infrastructure, as well as the increase in the tourism inflows.