Egypt lays out plans to boost yacht and cruise tourism

The plan will include easier travel permits for seafaring tourists visiting Egyptian ports of entry

A ferry with Egyptian and Saudi Arabian flags is seen at Hurghada Maritime Port
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Egypt revealed its strategy to boost yacht and cruise ship tourism on its coastlines on Sunday.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced the new measures after a meeting with the country’s ministers of tourism, and transport, sectors directly involved in the introduction of the strategy.

Egypt has found it difficult to attract cruise ship tourism in the past owing to tight security restrictions and arduous permit processes along its borders. Mr Madbouly said the country was not making the most of its potential.

The plan, mandated by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, aims to apply a multifaceted approach to revamp the nation’s coastlines, build new ports and expedite permits, Mr Madbouly said in a statement.

The committee will review which existing ports are best equipped to receive yachts and cruise ships, and will propose new locations on the Red and Mediterranean seas for establishing new entry points.

Ports that are chosen as yachting hotspots will be renovated to make them more inviting to visitors, Mr Madbouly said.

A unified price policy will also be brought in under the plan, and discounts will be used to entice seafaring tourists to visit Egyptian waters.

Currently, rates vary depending on which port a vessel is heading to.

For instance, if a south-bound luxury vessel must navigate the Suez Canal to reach the Red Sea, it will often pay more than if it stayed in Mediterranean waters. Rates are known to fluctuate significantly from year to year.

Once the necessary infrastructure changes are complete, promotional campaigns will be launched worldwide to invite tourists to bring their boats to Egypt’s revamped coasts.

Crucially, a unified online platform will be launched through which tourists can receive all the permits they need, including visas and approval to disembark at Egyptian ports, before they arrive.

As it stands, sailors entering Egypt must be escorted through its waters by pilots for security reasons.

Pilots board arriving vessels at each port and escort it to the next one on its journey. Often pilots do not speak English, and waiting times are notoriously long. All of this is set to change, however, when the proposal is introduced.

The transport ministry will operate the website and collect all the fees, the statement said. The ministry will then co-ordinate with all the other relevant government bodies on tourists’ behalf.

These changes will shorten processing times and make it much smoother for tourists to not only travel to Egypt by sea, but also move around with their vessels freely once they arrive.

Once the plan is fully devised, it will be presented to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and the larger Cabinet for approval.

Updated: August 02, 2021, 7:13 AM