Inbound tourism hit by political uprising, domestic tourism support
As 2013 begins, Egypt's tourism industry still suffers from political instability and is yet to recover. The number of inbound tourists slowed down, with local popular uprising and international travel warnings coming from multiple Western countries to their citizens about visiting Egypt. The capital and other key touristic cities like Luxor and Aswan were deeply hit by this year’s uprisings, with weak hotel occupancy rates.
With international tourist numbers still significantly low in Egypt in the wake of the Arab Spring, domestic tourism has taken on added importance for the ailing industry. Domestic tourist numbers were quite important in 2012 but their limited budget relative to international tourists does not help compensate for the loss.
Outbound tourism resists downturn
Egypt’s outbound tourism, in particular corporate travel, remained strong in 2012. Despite the domestic uprising, domestic business tourism was dominant but otherwise most business movement was outbound. Multinationals based in Egypt still conduct their business as usual, especially in the oil and gas sector. The MICE business performed particularly well and lucrative opportunities still exist for the Egyptian market in this sector.
Recovery in third quarter tarnished by new political uprisings
Although there had been good signs of recovery in October 2012, right before the traditional winter high season, the popular uprising following the November 2012 constitutional declaration led the situation return to what it was, a loss of 40% in arrivals between November and December 2012. The increase in tourism inbound before that is partly explained by the mass arrival of tourists; this was particularly the case for Palestinians and Libyans coming off-season.
A shift in the tourist nationality and destination
If Cairo is strongly hit, the Red Sea governorate has been the least affected by the declining numbers of tourists. Hotels in cities like Hurghada were posting up to 80 per cent occupancy rates in high season, corresponding to the summer and Ramadan. However the situation in Sinai is different, as arrivals strongly decreased in both the north and the south, although security problems only arose in the north as a result of the violent popular uprisings.
In 2012, most tourists coming to the Red Sea are Italians, Russians, Germans, Poles and Czechs. Those arrivals compensate the loss of other European countries where respective governments have warned about tourism in Egypt.
Industry players concerned about Constitutional crisis
Political volatility and ongoing uncertainty has deterred numerous tourists from visiting the country. Egyptian tourism officials and industry travel retailers are concerned that the possible new regulations banning alcohol and swimming suits in popular tourist resorts could have a negative impact on international travel in Egypt. Political stability and cease of uprisings are key factors for potential recovery of the tourism sector in Egypt. Although numerous tourism policies are leveraging the country’s historical heritage, the ongoing uncertainty generated strong decrease in the industry performance.
Whilst the country needs time to restore stability and support of foreign countries in presenting a positive image, indicators show that strong opportunities for recovery are available, such as new markets in emerging countries.
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