Tourism “could be getting back on track” in Egypt, Turkey and Greece, according to an industry report released by the World Travel Market on Monday.
“After a difficult couple of years, the signs are that Egypt, Greece and Turkey are back on the agenda, while Tunisia is starting to turn the corner,” said Simon Press, the Senior Director of World Travel Market. “The WTM Industry Report talks to people who have the power to sign deals and the high proportion of potential buyers interested in having conversations with suppliers from these destinations is a great positive.”
The report is based on a poll that included input from 2,000 buyers at the World Travel Market, which kicked off in London on Monday.
According to the report, more than half the buyers at the market said they were looking to discuss deals with Egyptian, Turkish and Greek suppliers.
However, Egypt seemed to be the least popular among the three, “with 37% of the total sample looking to talk to Greek businesses, 29% looking to talk to Turkish suppliers and 17% heading toward the Egypt stands.”
Egyptian tourism minister Yehia Rashid traveled to London on Monday to attend the World Travel Market and promote tourism in Egypt through the “This is Egypt” campaign.
Egypt’s tourism industry, once the flagship of the economy and the second most important earner of hard currency, has been struggling greatly since the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak from power.
Several incidents, including the accidental killing of eight Mexican tourists and the downing of a Russian passenger plane last year, in addition to the brutal murder of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni in January, have taken their toll on the country’s tourism flow.
More than 14.7 million tourists traveled to Egypt in 2010, with that number falling to 9.8 million in 2011. Tourist arrivals have largely failed to pick up during the course of 2016; according to statistics from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the number of tourists traveling to Egypt in June dropped by nearly 60 percent year-on-year to reach a meager 320,000.
According to a report from Egypt’s Ministry of Planning, the tourism trade in the country shrank by 34 percent during the first nine months of the 2015/2016 fiscal year.
The falling tourism revenues have been amplified by the dwindling foreign currency reserves that negatively affected the budget deficit.
However, some hope that the recent steps taken by Egyptian authorities, including the Central Bank of Egypt’s surprise move to devalue the Egyptian pound and the expected USD 12 million loan from the International Monetary Fund, will help set the country on the right track and bring back foreign investments and tourists.
Despite Egypt’s dwindling tourism revenues, which have played a part in triggering the country’s ongoing foreign currency crisis, Egypt aims to attract 12 million tourists by the end of 2017 by way of implementing an ambitious six-point plan, which will include increasing the presence of the national airline EgyptAir abroad, cooperating with low-cost airlines and improving services.