The Ministry of Tourism has decided to resume safaris in the White Desert east of Wahat Road beginning 22 October, although camping in these areas will be prohibited and tourists must stay in hotels overnight, according to an Egyptian Travel Agents Association (ETAA) official at a company that conducts desert safaris.
“ETAA sent us an announcement through which we learned that all desert activities on the strategic western and southern areas would be suspended during Eid Al-Adha from 6 October through 21 October,” the official said.
He added that a terrorist attack that took place two months ago on the New Valley-Assiut road, in which more than 20 soldiers were killed, is the main reason for the continued suspension of desert safaris in the southern area.
Approximately 23.5% of tourists in Egypt take part in desert trips, according to the Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA) of the Ministry of Tourism.
ETAA Chairman Zaki Adel said: “Desert tourism is considered one of our best tourism activities in terms of spending.”
According to Zaki, average spending per tourist per night in desert safari trips amounts to approximately $300, compared to $63 for ordinary tourists.
Zaki feels that this tourism product is very promising given desert tourism’s great potential in Egypt due to new archaeological and geological discoveries.
The average stay per tourist in Egypt ranges between 10 to 12 nights.
Inbound tourism to Egypt dropped by 25% during the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year to register 4.5 million tourists.
Tourism accounts for 11.3% of Egypt’s total GNP and employs 3.8 million people directly and indirectly.
One group on a trip to the Gilf Kebir Plateau in the southern Western Sahara was abducted by smuggling gangs in 2009, but the security agencies, with the help of the Egyptian military, were able free those kidnapped.
According to the ETAA official, authorities and security agencies work to provide protection and security for desert trips and follow up through various means to ensure individuals’ safety.