Since the 1950s until the beginning of the millennium, Alexandria’s Maamoura was the hottest and the finest destination for the summer vacation. This is the first choice for any film shooting in order to capture the scenes of the sea and the spirit of summer vacation.
However, the summer destination started to change in the 1990s, with Agami being the trendiest vacationers destination at this time, in order to escape from the increasing crowd and try to reach the finest place that be dedicated to comfort.
Vacationers trendiest spot and started to move rapidly along the coast of Alexandria, marking the beginning of the emergence of what we know now as the North Coast, where currently more than 30 touristic villages, starting by the Army’s village of Sidi Krir, at the Kilo 34 in the Alexandria-Matruh Road until the Sidi Abdel Rahman coast near the Matruh governorate borders.
The North Coast became the most popular summer destination in Egypt, where its fame exceeded even Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, and Alexandria.
Marina was the hottest trend in the early 2000s, hosting concerts of Amr Diab, Mohamed Mounir, and many other famous artists, being the most famous and most expensive area in the North Coast, where because most of Egypt’s celebrities, politicians, and public figures reside there in the summer season.
But even Marina did not last long, with the emergence of more expensive and luxurious destinations. It became a thing of the past, losing its previous glory to a number of new touristic resorts, which are restricted to only the owners, such as Marassi, Hacienda Bay, Amwaj, and many others on the Sidi Abdel Rahman coast.
North Coast rentals
Yet, the prices of housing units and tourist rentals in the north-west coast witnessed a violent decline, the current season witnessed an unusual static, especially in the Easter Holidays and before the month of Ramadan, indicating and acting as a warning of a catastrophic decline in prices this season for the first time.
In this regard, Ahmed Abdul Hamid, a rental broker in the North Coast, said that many of the contracting offices, brokers had partially closed since several months, particularly after the flotation of the pound, but some of them almost completely closed after the Easter holidays by mid-April, after they has not been able to accommodate any visitors under the severe economic conditions.
He said that the average price of renting the chalet dropped to EGP 300 a day from EGP 900, explaining that the purchasing price per metre at the Lotus resort currently fell to EGP 2,200 from its 2016 price of EGP 4,000, pointing out that the units offered are more than the demand, confirming that the North Coast suffers an unprecedented stagnation in rents.
He pointed out that Marina specifically did not witness the usual occupancy rates that were achieved in previous years during the summer season, noting that many of the families were exploiting the examination period in order to spend their vacation in Marina, Lotus, and other tourist resorts in the North Coast—but vacationers refrained from the presence this year despite a decline in rent prices by more than half.
He said that in the season of 2017, a number of food production companies did withdraw its merchandise from large stores, in anticipation of that their products will reach their expiry dates without being sold, as well as the reluctance of the contractors for the maintenance of the chalet rental units in preparation for the new summer season in light of rising prices of the employment of maintenance.
However, the renting prices of Sidi Abdel Rahman didn’t witness the same decline, where the rental prices in Marassi start from EGP 3,500 for a small chalet up to EGP 15,000 for a villa in one day. Hacienda Bay’s rent prices for one day started from EGP 4,000 for a small chalet to EGP 10,000 for a villa, and Amwaj case rentals started from EGP 2,500 up to EGP 8,000.
Regarding the North Coast’s night life, 6ix Degrees, the club that was at the centre of controversy this year, is one of the North Coast’s top nightlife destinations. Its usual entrance fees was EGP 1,200, while for the second most famous destination is Amwaj’s Tabla, where the entrance fee started from EGP 1,000. On the other hand, Martin’s Beach Club located in Bo Islands, one of the trendiest places this summer, requires a membership although non members are selectively admitted as well.
Matruh: the less expensive alternative
On the other hand, the beaches of Matruh governorate, which is a less expensive popular destination witnessed a decline in rental demand after Eid Al-Fitr vacation, a number of workers in the beaches believe that the latest rise in fuel prices is the reason for this retreat.
Ahmed Gamal, a real estate broker for furnished apartments rentals, told Daily News Egypt that the occupancy rate this season witnesses a decrease compared to the same time last year, where the occupancy rates registered at around 50% at the start of the summer, and they retreated further after the end of the Eid Al-Fitr to 30%, where the number of families cancelled the booking actually after the announcement of the rise in fuel prices.
“However, we cannot be so firmly sure about the real cause, as it might be due to the fact that many families are waiting for the result of the general secondary school,” said Gamal. Adding that in any case, they are waiting until the beginning of August.
Gamal explained that everyone relies on the return of the flow of vacationers to their Eid holiday levels, especially that rent prices for this season are low, where the lease of apartments in the tourist places start from EGP 200 per night and go all the way up to a maximum of EGP 1,000—last year, at the same time, the prices of summer resort units registered a minimum of EGP 250 for an apartment and EGP 1,500 as a maximum price. Last year, rental prices for chairs and umbrellas on the beach did not exceed EGP 50 for 4 people.
Mohamed Saeed, a restaurant owner in Matruh, confirmed that higher fuel prices have led to a marked decline in the percentage of occupancy rates at the beaches of Marsa Matruh, especially that all land transport connections had increased the value of the service, which, in turn, led to an increase in the turnout on railway lines, which did not raise prices, but it is slow in comparison to the buses to the presence of an old single line linking Marsa Matruh to the North Coast of Alexandria.
The duration of the train trip from Cairo to Marsa Matruh takes up to eight hours, which is cumbersome to many families, especially to the elderly and children, owing to the poor conditions of trains and the limited services provided throughout these hours, which pushed many of them to change their mind from heading to Matruh.
Hassan Abd-El Hameed, one of the workers in Matruh’s Ageeba beach, confirmed that the turnout this season has declined, especially after the hike in fuel prices in June, which made people fear the increasing of the prices of other services as a result. Consequently, some people refrain from the idea of travel to Matruh, while other vacationers decided to reduce the duration of their stay to 3-4 days at most instead of 7 days in order to save expenses.
On his part, Hussein El-Sawi, director of the Department of Tourism in Matruh governorate said the that the recorded occupancy rate in hotels did not exceed 50%, throughout the Matruh governorate in both the North Coast or Matruh’s capital city. El-Sawi explained that Matruh has many factors that make it a hot touristic destination, especially with the availability of drinking water, after running the water desalination stations, and the many different entertainment theme parks and cinemas, as well as the open and public beaches at affordable prices.