It seems that the effects of the continuation of the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip have begun to extend beyond its borders, reducing the tone of Egyptian optimism regarding the current tourist season, which was expected to be promising. The head of the management committee of the Chamber of Hotel Establishments in Egypt, Alaa Akl, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “About 90% of tourist establishments (hotels and campsites) have been closed in the cities of Taba and Nuweiba, located in the Sinai on the Egyptian coast. shore of the Red Sea.”
Akl explained: “It was natural that the war in Gaza cast a shadow on tourism in general and affected it negatively, especially in the cities adjacent to the conflict zone, led by Taba and Nuweiba, followed by the city of Sharm El-Sheikh, while the impact is less in the rest of the Red Sea cities, such as Hurghada, Marsa Alam, up to Cairo and the rest of the Egyptian cities.”
Egyptian tourism expert Mohamed Karem agrees with him, confirming to Asharq Al-Awsat that “there are tourist camps that have been closed in the cities of Taba and Nuweiba, and the occupancy rate in Sharm El-Sheikh and in the South Sinai city does not exceed 30%, expressing his fears about “the impact of the continuation of the war on the tourism sector in general”.
However, the head of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority, Amr El-Kady, remains optimistic. He says: “What is happening is a temporary situation, and occupancy rates in various Egyptian cities and governorates are so far normal, reaching around 90% in Luxor (Upper Egypt), 80% in Hurghada and dropping to around 60%. % in Sharm El Sheikh. The cancellation rate of reservations is still within normal limits and does not exceed 10%.”
Al-Qadi stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “Sharm El-Sheikh and the cities of South Sinai are the most affected cities in the current period, especially with the absence of Israeli tourism, which reached around 35 tourists per month. “
Egypt was expecting a promising tourist season this year. The Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Issa, had already stated last September that “his country aims to reach 15 million tourists by the end of 2023”. He confirmed then that the sector “saw a 40% growth in the volume of incoming tourist traffic in the period from January to July this year, compared to the same period last year”.
But with the outbreak of war in Gaza: “It is no longer possible to confirm whether or not Egypt will reach this figure,” according to Al-Qadi, who stressed that “Egypt has so far reached more than 70% of the target number , but cannot “ascertain whether it will reach its target by the end of the year if the current situation continues.”
Repercussions of the war
The cities of Taba and Nuweiba witnessed incidents (Friday), in which “a drone of unknown origin fell next to one of the buildings next to the Taba hospital”, according to an Egyptian army spokesperson, while a projectile fell fell in the city of Nuweiba.
These events prompted Akl to express his fears that “the negative impact of tourism will spread to other cities in Egypt, especially as the war continues.”
Like him, Karem also expects that “the tourism sector will suffer negative impacts from what happened in Taba and Nuweiba, and that the impact will extend to the rest of the cities.” He points out that “tourism from Italy and Spain has decreased, while the coastal cities of South Sinai depend on Italian, Israeli and Russian tourism, the rates of which have also decreased.” He says: “The repercussions of the war will have a strong impact on the tourism sector.”
But the judge believes that “the crisis can be contained”, underlining that “when the (Corona) pandemic occurred, the sector was hit, and then recovered quickly, in a large tourist wave that followed the end of the epidemic, and the same happened with the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which had a significant impact”. At first on Egypt, but then the sector recovered.
Revenues from tourism
According to data from Egypt’s Cabinet Information Center, the tourism sector recorded an increase in revenue during the first nine months of the 2020-2023 fiscal year, reaching $10.8 billion, compared to $8.2 billion in the the previous fiscal year. Tourism revenues of up to $30 billion per year (one dollar equals 30.9 Egyptian pounds) by 2028.
Here, Al-Qadi highlighted that “the Ministry of Tourism is making numerous efforts to reduce the negative effects of the war on tourism, addressing all international tourism companies to confirm that Egypt is safe, as well as participating in international tourism fairs , and organization of foreign tours and official visits to some countries to promote the tourist destination. “The Egyptian.”
Last week, the Egyptian Minister of Tourism visited Italy and held meetings with his Italian counterpart, several companies and the media, during which he spoke about his country’s strategy to reach 30 million tourists a year by 2030. This month Egypt also participated in tourism fairs in Portugal and the United States of America.