The Egyptian Junior Business Association (EJB) has outlined methods to handle future travel crises, especially considering that the world is increasingly interconnected, requiring an amount of crisis-readiness.
According to Mohamed Kaoud, Head of the EJB’s Tourism and Aviation Committee, the question today is not if, but rather when, the next crisis will take place. He added that the biggest risk is often not the crisis itself, but rather the preparation, management, and response to it.
Kaoud said that Egypt was the top destination in the Arab world, having seen investments of $13.7bn, or an average of $98bn per project.
He also said that there are huge opportunities for the Egyptian Government and private sector to capture investment opportunities in the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors.
The public and private sectors must come together to enhance their preparedness to mitigate the impacts of a crisis. This would also see them better manage and effectively address a crisis, and enhance their responsiveness through strong policies to ensure a speedy recovery.
As Egypt’s GDP is the best performing in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, it is time to capture more of those opportunities and create a fruitful future for the county. On top of the government’s fast economic recovery plans, Kaoud noted that the EJB would suggest the following pathways.
He said that there needs to be a fiscal policy to include tax reductions. This would come in addition to a monetary policy to include credit guarantees to banks and the rescheduling of bank credits.
At the same time, employment and skills should include temporary wage compensation, income support schemes, and wide support for digitalisation and online/distance work.
This would come in addition to market intelligence to include timely and robust data to support strategic planning, the precise monitoring of the socio-economic impact, and innovative smart tools and solutions.
There should also be public-private partnerships to include enhanced cooperation, government consultations with relevant stakeholders, and inter-governmental committees.
From a macro perspective, the EJB would suggest enriching the accessibility to Egypt and speeding the operation of the airport at the New Administrative Capital (NAC), as well as the Sphinx and Alamein Airports. This would come together with expanding the current main airports already present across Egypt.
Kaoud added that marketing and communications plans that target new segments and meet the evolving needs of today’s travellers must be put in place.
He said that there additionally needs to be a Hospitality Council and/or Ministry that enhances Egypt’s hospitality industry. This would focus on hotels and resorts, together with ensuring the right workforce that will help the industry flourish and set Egypt apart.
Kaoud stressed that the Arab world has suffered, and continues to suffer, sizable losses and setbacks due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
At least 90% of those setbacks have been caused by the shock to the travel and tourism sector. These have been in large part caused by the global population having to adjust to life under travel restrictions.
At the same time, many have stayed home, in fear of the virus, bringing the travel and tourism sector a near-total standstill. Despite this, sector leaders have remained strong in the face of adversity.
Kaoud cited the words of Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths who said that “this loss of mobility has devastated the travel and tourism sector worldwide”.
Griffiths also said, “Governments across the globe are looking to the aviation industry for a solution that minimises the risk of infection whilst getting the world’s people, and its economies, moving again.”
He added that there are three essential steps required to create this outcome, and that it is necessary to act now to make travel safe again. He said that a common testing procedure that is quick, accurate, and easy to administer is needed, along with a unified approach to testing.
There also needs to be an isolation and protection protocol, and the establishment of bilateral agreements between countries, agreeing to adopt these measures.
According to Kaoud, four intertwined trends have become priorities in the industry: Demand Evolution; Traveller preferences and behaviours which have shifted toward the familiar, predictable, and trusted; Domestic holidays, which include extensive planning; and the short-term appeal of the outdoors, with tourism businesses and destinations already adapting.