The Egyptian General Authority for Tourism Promotion launched its first office in the GCC, located in the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi.
Present at the opening ceremony of the office was Egyptian ambassador to the UAE Ihab Hamouda and the Authority’s Director, Sami Mahmoud, as well as Ahmed Ali, manager of the authority’s office in Abu Dhabi.
The newly established office will cooperate with all airlines that have flights to Egypt, to set up direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh, the Red Sea and the North Coast.
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism is seeking to increase the country’s annual tourist influx to 20 million, whilst also raising tourism income to $26bn by 2020. The tourism sector contributes 11% to the country’s gross national product (GNP), and also participates in providing 7% of foreign currency.
According to a report issued earlier by the ministry, it plans to attract tourists with higher spending powers.
The GCC is a main target for Egypt in reviving tourism in the country. Earlier in 2014, a song entitled “Misr Orayba” (“Egypt is Near”) was launched, featuring a number of Egyptian actors and singers. It forms part of a campaign that is targeted at GCC tourists, urging them to spend their holidays in Egypt.
Talking to Daily News Egypt last month, Egyptian Tourism Federation Board Member Hussien Shokry said that in the last days of Ramadan, most occupancies in Cairo hotels were from the GCC, especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. He further expected that Arab tourism will be in very good condition over this summer.
Furthermore, during the Eid vacation, hotel occupancy rates reached 100% in Sharm El-Sheikh, Ain Sokhna, Hurghada and Ras Sedr, with GCC tourists contributing the highest percentage.
Moreover, for increasing tourist influx to Egypt from other regions of the world, the Ministry of Tourism has assigned its foreign offices in Europe the task of intensifying promoting Egypt over this summer season.
Egypt’s tourism income reached approximately $7.5bn in the last year, $1.5bn of which was from Arab Tourism. Meanwhile, in 2013, tourism revenue registered $5.9bn, according to a Ministry of Tourism official.
Tourism is not the only pillar for which Egypt is seeking the Gulf’s support. In March 2015, Hassan Fahmy, Chairman of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), told Daily News Egypt that the total amount of Arab investments as capital in newly created companies since 2011 is approximately $4.3bn.
Between 2011 and February 2014, the total number of companies established by Arab countries reached 4,047, with foreign capital of over $13bn, only $4.3bn of which came from Arab countries. These covered several sectors, including industry, service, finance, agriculture, tourism, construction, and communications.
The UAE is the second largest Arab investor in Egypt with investments worth $944m, Saudi Arabia is the third with $925m. Kuwait is the seventh largest investor in the country with investments worth $225m following Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain.
Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, have been strong supporters of Egypt since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The total financial aid Egypt has obtained from these countries since that time until the end of 2014 totals $23bn, according to Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman.
Furthermore at Egypt’s Economic Summit last March, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE pledged $12bn in economic assistance to Egypt during the conference’s opening ceremony.
Of this amount, $6bn was put as a deposit at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) in April 2015.