Egypts lucrative tourism industry has
taken several hits from terrorist attacks in the past two years,
but Egyptian officials and tour operators that bank on the
destination say tourism is becoming more resilient.
terrorist strike, in the Sinai seaside city of Dahab in April, for
example, did little to derail the sectors momentum.
This wasnt the
case a decade ago, when gunmen killed more than 60 tourists at an
ancient temple at Luxor in November 1997. It took nearly four years
for tourism, and Egypts economy, to recover.
change in attitude among tourists will help Egypt welcome 9.6
million visitors this year, about 1 million more than in 2005,
according to the Egyptian Tourist Authority. Last years arrivals
represented a 6% increase over 2004.
Tourists ... are
more resilient, as people realize [terrorist attacks] are not
limited to the Middle East and can happen anywhere, said Omayma El
Husseini, assistant director of the ETA in New York.
Tourism is still
big business, producing more than $6 billion in annual revenue. By
some estimates, tourism employs 10% of Egypts workers and accounts
for 7% of gross national product.
To that end,
Egypt this month launched the U.S. component of a $40 million
global campaign that features a new logo and slogan: Nothing
Compares to Egypt.
Our message is
that Egypt has a diversity that no other country offers, said El
Husseini. Yes, of course, Egypt is popular for
tourists who seek culture and history, but the new U.S. campaign
will also emphasize our great scuba diving, our golf courses, our
beaches and resorts and our entertainment.
According to El
Husseini, Egypt experienced a 16% increase in visitors last month
compared with May 2005. For the first five months of this year,
tourism was up 21%, compared with the same period in
concur with those numbers, saying travel to Egypt is robust. They
say that by promoting more than just archeological sights, the new
campaign will help attract customers who might not have otherwise
considered a trip to Egypt.
Yalla Tours in
Portland, Ore., anticipates that business to Egypt will be up 25%
this year, with more than 1,500 such bookings.
To deal with the
increase, Yalla last month opened an office in Cairo.
We just had a fam
trip to Egypt in May and had to turn away 70 agents, said Yalla
President Ronen Paldi. Twenty-three agents attended the fam
Egypts ability to
bounce back after the recent terror attacks has as much to do with
the traveling publics decision not to give in to terrorism as with
Egypts proactive efforts to assuage travelers fears, Paldi
made a conscious decision not to surrender to terrorism when
deciding whether or not to take a trip, Paldi said. But
destinations must do their part.
every tour bus in Egypt must have an armed escort, Paldi noted, and
ground operators are obliged to register with the tourism police.
In addition, most of the countrys top hotels have security agents
stationed on hotel floors.
Paldi said one
aspect of Yalla that sets it apart in Egypt is its fleet of five
private vans in Cairo for custom, guided city tours.
popular Egypt tour is the 11-night Glory of Egypt, which includes
four nights in Cairo, two in Sharm al-Sheikh, one in St. Catherine
and a four-night Nile River cruise. Prices start at $2,195 per
person, double, all-inclusive, from May 1 to Sept. 30.
Keene, N.H., is seeing a 30% jump in traffic to Egypt this year,
said President Bob Drumm, noting the firm reintroduced several
custom tours to Egypt.
Egypt has a lot
to offer, and most of us have only scratched the surface, said
Drumm. As demand grows, we see a lot of opportunity to develop
product in Egypt.
offers an eight-night River of the Pharaohs tour, with three nights
at the Ramses Hilton; one at the Sheraton Heliopolis, Cairo; and
four on the Nile, aboard a deluxe ship in an outside cabin.
Air-inclusive rates start at $2,899 per person, double.
Business to Egypt
is up by as much as 34% at Oak Brook, Ill.-based Abercrombie &
Kent, which describes itself as the largest luxury tour operator to
said A&K is investing considerable dollars to refurbish its
largest Nile cruise ship -- the decade-old, 80-passenger Sun Boat
IV -- giving it teak and marble floors and floor-to-ceiling windows
in all cabins on the three upper decks.
programs include the 11-night The Desert Road: Libya & Egypt
and insider access experience add-ons in Cairo, Alexandria and the
To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].