Hotel investments in the Marsa Alam region roughly amount to EGP 15bn with more than 15,000 operational hotel rooms, according to the head of the Tourism Investors Association in the region, Adel Radi.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Radi said that the region is a promising touristic area owing to its huge resources, such as expansive diving areas with stunning coral reefs. There are opportunities for growth in occupancy rates in the area; however, it depends on the marketing campaigns, whether in Arab or in European countries.
How are occupancy rates in the region currently?
Occupancy rates in Marsa Alam vary from one hotel to the other depending on the capacity of the hotel. The rate has not exceeded 30% in the past few weeks, but it is on the rise owing to the increase in Egyptians reserving their holiday time for Eid Al-Adha.
I expect the rate to exceed 50% during the national holiday. The influx of Egyptians will be huge in light of the discounted prices offered by operational hotels to attract customers.
Do you rely much on domestic tourism to increase occupancy during this period?
Of course, growth in occupancy is the main reason why Egyptians come to the area on buses. I expect their inbound movement to increase ahead of the Eid holiday.
There are also tourists from Germany and the Czech Republic who represent a good percentage of tourists, but I hope we can eventually return to the same indexes of 2010.
How is marketing for the area currently?
The area requires strong marketing in cooperation with the private sector and the Ministry of Tourism, whether to nearby markets in the region or to European markets—or even countries with no tourists travelling to Egypt.
There are strong opportunities for growth from inbound Arab tourism, especially from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Do you think that the Arab market may become one of the most important markets for Egypt?
Of course. There has been a change in the Arab tourist markets over the past 20 years owing to the increase of education rates for most families in the Gulf, besides young people becoming more informed about different cultures, as well as their desire to relax on beaches—unlike Arab tourists who enjoy staying in Cairo.
The situation has greatly changed, and we must prepare for this in order to allow Egyptian tourism to acquire a larger share of the Arab market, which is growing significantly.
Tourists are visiting destinations that compete against Egypt, even though they are providing the same Egyptian product. You can imagine that young people from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries enjoy diving and seeing coral reefs—the Ministry of Tourism must pay attention to that change.
You mentioned private sector initiatives for marketing; what are these initiatives?
The private sector in the area is seeking to launch initiatives in the Saudi and Jordanian markets as these are two of the most important markets with high growth rates and significant opportunities.
Moreover, there are negotiations with a private airline to launch direct flights between Marsa Alam airport and Jeddah or Amman. We hope to reach an agreement very soon.
Is it true that many hotels in the area had to close their doors in the past period?
Yes, more than 30% of the area’s hotel capacity is now non-operational. Additionally, many hotels were partially closed in an attempt to reduce losses, especially considering the decline in tourist influxes from Europe to Egypt in the past two years.
Some people may think that Marsa Alam was not affected by the Russian aeroplane crash in late October 2015. However, the entirety of Egyptian tourism was affected by the suspension of all direct flights to Egypt, as well as Britain’s decision to suspend its flights to Sharm El-Sheikh.
Both countries represented approximately 45% of the annual tourism to Egypt; however, tourists from Germany and eastern European countries has not ceased.