Sharm El Sheikh tourist numbers disappoint after lifting of European travel ban
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt’s main tourist resort, is still only posting 35 per cent occupancy in its high season even after most European nations lifted the block on travel to the location, according to the chairman of the country’s tourism board.
While Russia and the United Kingdom, traditionally two of its main source markets, still do not fly to the resort after a bomb brought down a Russian plane flying from the resort killing everyone on board in 2015, Egypt’s other tourist centres such as Cairo, Luxor and Hurghada have experienced something of an uptick, recording occupancy levels between 50 and 60 per cent. The country has registered a huge boost in Arabic tourists visiting, with a 38 per cent jump in numbers in the first three months of 2017 compared with a year before.
Egypt is looking to promote a positive image after a number of attacks targeting churches there over the past six months, including this month in Alexandria. The government is looking to assuage the concerns of visitors and the country’s Coptic population by encouraging the building of churches where the demographic is suitable and pushing “spiritual” tourism.
“Egypt has learnt a lot since 2011 when it was talked about very negatively,” said Hisham El Demery, the chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board. He said Egypt was a magnet for Arab tourists because of a common culture and history and after the devaluation in November 2016, when the Egyptian pound fell by 50 per cent.
“The whole world is now troubled with insecurity and Egypt has recently had a period of stability, which has shown itself in the increasing visitor numbers. We have seen huge numbers of Italians, Germans and Scandinavians visiting the country, obviously not in the numbers beforehand but we are slowly bringing them back.” Mr El Demery added that the country was also promoting itself to religious tourists in conjunction with Jordan.
Egypt currently has between 200,000 and 210,000 hotel rooms, which tourism chiefs believe is the right level. However it is adding 3,000 kilometres of road infrastructure, enhancing the site around the Pyramids and will be opening the biggest museum in the world in 2018.
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Updated: April 25, 2017 04:00 AM