The prices of suhoor and iftar in Ramadan are increasing by 80% compared to last year as a result of price hikes following the flotation of the pound.
Amin Sabla, former chairperson of the Chamber of Tourism Establishments of the Egyptian Tourism Federation and head of the Bon Appetit restaurants, said that the prices of meals in Ramadan, whether iftar or suhoor, will rise after the liberalisation of the exchange rate of the pound against the dollar in November 2016.
He explained that there are five types of facilities. The first are the alcohol-friendly facilities, which close during the holy month. The second type are the major establishments, which suffer weak demand and are limited to the iftar and suhoor hours—where a facility of 100 seats cannot serve more than 100 people twice a day, unlike the traditional service during the rest of the year, in which they serve hundreds of customers per day.
He added that the third type does not usually see big demand during the year except during Ramadan, during which all seats are taken.
The fourth type of establishments serve oriental sweets, which see a positive response during the month.
The fifth type of establishments are the takeaway restaurants, which halt work during the day, but see demand during the night hours.
According to Sabla, the deterioration of the economic situation led to the absence of prior reservations for companies and families to tourist restaurants during the nights of Ramadan.
As a result, the contracts with artists and musical bands to host concerts declined during the second half of Shaaban.
He explained that nearly 50% of reservations are made by companies that host celebrations for their employees. He said that the price of a meal on a boat ranges between EGP 300-600 per person for iftar or suhoor. The boats that host concerts besides food offer higher prices.
Ramadan Hagagy, member of the Chamber of Tourism Establishments of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, said that Ramadan usually sees a 90% increase in demand on floating restaurants during iftar and suhoor.
He also expected prices to see a rise of up to 20% at least because of the price hikes of most commodities.
One of the service providers at the Ondine Maadi restaurant said that the restaurant is now preparing for Ramadan with an expected unprecedented customer demand for iftar and suhoor, especially from businesspeople, companies, and government agencies.
He noted that prices will range between EGP 400 and EGP 700 per person, plus tax and service charges.
He expected bookings to increase by 20% compared to Ramadan last year, as it coincides with high-school exams, and the desire of the people to leave homes for students as not to negatively affect their concentration.
He explained that the restaurant is applying for a licence regarding the installation of Ramadan decorations outside the restaurant on the Corniche, waiting for licences from the Ministry of Tourism to provide programmes at the beginning of the month.
Nagy Erian, the deputy head of the Chamber of Tourism Establishments of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, said that establishments are now racing to obtain a licence from the Ministry of Tourism to provide special programmes during Ramadan.
He pointed out that all programmes are witnessing at least a 50% increase in prices, up by 100% due to the flotation of the pound.
A salesperson at Nile Maxim boat said that the price of iftar on board ranges between EGP 500 and EGP 700.
He added that all restaurants on the board contracted with artists to host suhoor concerts, noting that the band prices increased by 100% from last year.
One of the booking staff at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel said that the lowest iftar menu begins at EGP 360 per person, while the lowest price for suhoor is EGP 550.
She added that the period during which they offer iftar is only two hours, while suhoor extends over a period of four hours.
Another booking employee at the Sofitel Al Jazeerah Hotel said that the hotel’s iftar prices range between EGP 400 and EGP 500 per person. As for suhoor, meals start at EGP 300.
Ramses Hilton will provide the possibility of an overnight stay at discounted prices to attract customers.
The sales representative there said that the price per room, including iftar and suhoor is at EGP 999 per person, while double rooms are at EGP 1,399.
Abdul-Fattah Al-Assi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism for Hotel Establishments, warned hotels not to offer Ramadan programmes without a permit from the Ministry of Tourism, as this would make them liable to paying three times the tax.
He explained that the hotels that offer Ramadan programmes are in Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria only; Ramadan programmes cannot be held in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada and other tourist cities, he added.
He expected hotels to continue submitting requests for programmes until the beginning of Ramadan.
He pointed out that the applications include the duration of the programme, along with the prices that the establishments set based on their view of the market and the economic situation of citizens.
He noted that the ministry did not change the prices submitted by the hotels, even though it reserves the right to amend the prices based on its own view.
He explained that the ministry decided to leave the prices open for hotels to decide, due to the general price hikes.
He pointed out that all the hotels that applied for permits have been approved, and none were rejected.