Egypt: a Return to Growth for Tourism in 2017?

Hopes for recovery after an extremely difficult 2016

While violence and terror acts have depressed the destination since the Egyptian Revolution, the crash of a Russian aircraft at the end of 2015 prompted many countries to suspend air links to Sharm El Sheikh, in the Sinai region. Tourist arrivals on a year-toyear basis (December 2015 to November 2016) totalled 5.3 million foreign visitors, a drop of 43% compared to the same period of the previous year. In 2015, total foreign tourist arrivals still reached 9.3 million while in 2010, the best year on record for Egyptian tourism, arrivals from foreign visitors hit a peak of 14.7 million. The same decline was observed for tourism revenues: from US$12.5bn in 2010, tourist revenues dropped to only US$6.1bn in 2015 and reached the bottom line in 2016 at around US$3.8 to 4bn according to first estimates.

POUND DEVALUATION AND RETURN OF AIRLINES ARE POSITIVE NEWS

Egypt and its people have an extraordinary sense of resilience. There are some elements showing that the situation could move positively in 2017, and analysts say tourism should at least stabilise or even grows again in a range of 10% to 12%.

The Egyptian Tourism Authority continues to promote the country and to mount marketing campaigns around the world. However new markets are being targeted such as Central Europe, North Africa, the Balkans and Turkey. Another very positive development is the resumption of flights from Russia and the UK to the Red Sea area following a year’s suspension. Flights started again from the end of February and in January, Russia opened a consulate in Hurgadha to deal with Russian expats and visitors. Good news came also from Scandinavia as well as Belgium following the lifting of the ban on travel to the Egyptian side of the Red Sea.

A few weeks ago, British travel group Thomas Cook reported that bookings to Egypt were on the rise again. This is also due to the weakening of the Egyptian Pound against most currencies. The government decided to float the currency and this is showing a positive effect – with Egypt’s local prices consequently 25% cheaper than in previous years. Colliers International predicts a stable evolution for Cairo and Alexandria particularly due to the corporate market and domestic tourism. Cairo will see the opening of new Internat ional first class and luxury hotels this year (Steigenberger, St Regis, Radisson Blu and Westin Resort)