Thursday, 15 December 2011

Egyptian tourism feeling chill compared with 2010


The Christmas and New Year periods are usually a time for operators in the Red Sea to make profits to see them through the leaner periods but occupancy rates for this year are expected to be around 50% lower than levels in 2010.

The occupancy rates of around 20-25% are due to Egypt being hit badly by several key factors. The first being the January 2010 uprising to topple Hosni Mubarak and the continued uncertainty surrounding the future of the country which continues to rumble on with elections and violent clashes in November.

A further reason is a decline in the disposable income of potential travellers from UK and Eurozone where the enture region is clouded in a feeling of uncertainty over the economy and jobs.

Moataz Sedky, deputy director of tourism at Travco Travel which operates 48 hotels and resorts across Egypt thinks that 2011 has been a bad year:

'The Red Sea is mainly dependent on charter flights from European cities, English visitors, for example rank as number one tourists coming to the Red Sea, especially for Travco Group’s hotels. They usually fly first to Sharm El-Sheikh with a frequency of about 60 flights per week. This year, there are about 30 flights a week from the British market.'

The Red Sea has also been a popular destination for Russians but this has been damaged by banning travel to the area which continued for a few months after the revolution. The actions by the Russian governments have left a hangover for The Red Sea as it has damaged the reputation of the safety of the country.

Despite this, Moataz Sedky has reported a rise in new clients from areas such as Romania and Serbia due to the deals on offer 'but these are not our regular clients. Our regular clients are mainly from Britain, Germany, or Russia.'

Tourism revenue in Egypt is expected to reach around $9bn this year compared with $12.5bn in 2010.

The situation in Egypt represents an interesting case study of the situation of tourist areas in the world. It could be argued that tourism levels from 2006-2010 were artificially high and that too many hotels have been built for a realistic number of visitors. This will lead to tourism levels to decline or plateau.  Alternatively it could be that 2011 was a particularly bad year. The new Egyptian government will hope this is the case but maybe the boom years have been and gone.

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