Egypt will host a travel trade show to boost post-Covid-19 recovery and promote itself as a tourist destination.
The Gate Travel Expo, taking place from September 6 to 9 in Cairo, is expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors and 200 companies from at least 56 countries, organisers said.
“Egypt deserves to be on the world tourism map in a much bigger way,” said Amr El Kady, chief executive of the government's Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board, at an event unveiling the show on Monday evening.
“It will put a spotlight on Egypt. At the same time, it is important to organise many different types of conferences in the country,” he said.
The North African country will also be hosting the UN Cop27 climate change conference in Sharm El Sheikh in November.
Tourism has started to recover globally with the easing of travel restrictions, now that 60 per cent of the world’s population is vaccinated against Covid-19 and countries have largely adapted to living with the pandemic.
Destinations welcomed almost three times as many international arrivals in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021, according to the UN World Trade Organisation.
However, international tourist arrivals were still 61 per cent below pre-pandemic 2019 levels over the same period.
A challenging economic environment coupled with the Russia-Ukraine war “pose a downside risk to the ongoing recovery of international tourism”, the UNWTO said.
Egypt welcomed just 3.6 million tourists in 2020, less than a quarter of the number who visited in 2019, as the pandemic wiped out $17.6 billion from the country’s economy and caused the loss of 844,000 travel and tourism jobs that year.
The Russia-Ukraine war has also badly affected the tourism sector, with Russian and Ukrainian tourists normally accounting for at least a third of the 10 million-plus visitors to Egypt.
Last year, Egypt put on a couple of high-profile events to spark media attention and publicity, including the Pharaohs' Golden Parade of 22 royal mummies through the streets of Cairo and the reopening of Luxor’s Avenue of Sphinxes. It has also touted the highly anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum, which is scheduled to open later this year.
The country’s tourism and antiquities ministry has been highlighting archaeological discoveries, such as the latest find of 250 sarchophagi and 150 bronze statuettes in Saqqara.
“These discoveries are very important because they will bring back cultural tourism to Egypt,” famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass said at the event via Zoom.
“2022 will be a very important year for the whole world,” he said, highlighting the 100-year anniversary since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb on November 4. It is rumoured the GEM’s opening will coincide with the anniversary.
Mr Hawass said he would be happy to participate in the tourism expo and use the opportunity to further publicise Egypt’s archaeological finds.
Egypt is keen to promote other types of tourism as well, such as extreme sports.
Ahmed Abdullah, chief executive of Skydive Pharaohs, said the company will take part in the expo to increase sports tourism.
The idea behind Skydive Pharaohs was to “see the treasures of Egypt from another view”, he said.
They organise skydiving events over famous sites, such as the Pyramids of Giza, and will be going to Alamein on the north coast, Sharm El Sheikh and Marsa Alam this year.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Ministry of Youth and Sports are the main government entities backing the GTE.
The expo will take place at the historic Qubba palace and gardens in Cairo, which has an estimated area of 190 acres. The palace was built between 1867 and 1872 during the reign of Khedive Ismail.
The countries participating so far are mainly from Europe, Asia and Africa, and include the UAE.
Other major tourism trade shows in the region include the Arabian Travel Market at the Dubai World Trade Centre, which welcomed more than 23,000 visitors and 1,500 exhibitors in May.