Elhamy El-Zayat, the former chairperson of the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF), has expected that tourist flow to Egypt will recover by autumn 2022, specifically in October, and will reach its peak during 2023 and 2024.
He added that the sector is witnessing a gradual improvement, asking the stakeholders to be patient.
“By 2024, I believe that business, tourism, and conferences will be back,” El-Zayat told Daily News Egypt.
He explained that the recovery depends on tourist-exporting countries’ classification of Egypt in terms of the coronavirus spread level, as some countries put Egypt in the “red zone”, others in the orange zone, etc.
“Currently, Egypt witnesses low traffic from the US and Canada. Some Brazilians visited Luxor, Aswan, and Cairo, which was a good sign, as income-wise they were much higher than the traditional markets, so we hope this will continue,” he added.
If this trend continues, El-Zayat forecasted that 2023-2024 would be an outstanding period, providing COVID-19 levels stabilise. He noted that 92% of Egypt’s visitors travel by air, so Egypt expects high tourist flow when airlines resume work normally.
International flights at all Egyptian airports nationwide were suspended on 19 March 2020 as part of government efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Inbound flights only resumed on 1 July 2020 to three governorates as a first stage, namely the Red Sea, South Sinai, and Matrouh. Tourism activities in Luxor and Aswan resumed in early September 2021, with floating hotels allowed to resume work in October.
Stakeholders are optimistic about winter
Ehab Abdel Aal, Treasurer of the Cultural Tourism Association, expressed his optimism that winter will see improvement at all tourist destinations in Egypt.
He said that the occupancy rates in Egypt during the current period were very good, so his expectations for winter were very positive.
He mentioned that when aviation returns gradually, Egypt tourism will recover 70% of its pre-COVID-19 level by October 2021, unless new virus variants emerge. He added that the occupancy rates would return to normal by 2022.
Mohamed Osman, head of the Committee for the Promotion of Cultural Tourism in Luxor, said that several indicators showed that next winter will be very good with regard to the tourist flow, especially with the completion of the Karnak Temple restoration and the reopening of Rams Road, which is one of the most important landmarks that can be used for marketing tourism.
Earlier, Khaled El-Anany, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, announced that before the end of the year, Egypt will reopen the 2,700-metre-long Avenue of Sphinxes, a road that connects the Karnak and Luxor temples, eastern Luxor.
Vaccination is Key for recovery
Regarding the procedures that the government should take in order to speed the recovery, Abdel Aal suggested that the government should accelerate the vaccination of the tourism sector workers nationwide. The government should also clarify to the world the health measures that would be taken if a foreign tourist was infected, because this will help Egypt get out of the red zone.
Egypt announced in early June that it had vaccinated all tourism workers at both Red Sea and South Sinai governorates against COVID-19, as hotels and resorts gear up for the safe return of holidaymakers this summer. Moreover, all the tourism sector workers in different touristic cities have been vaccinated at the end of September. The government is currently working on vaccinating the rest of tourism workers nationwide.
All workers in tourism establishments, including hotels, resorts, cafes, restaurants, and bazaars, as well as tourism transportation in the Red Sea, South Sinai, Luxor, and Aswan have received COVID-19 vaccine.