The tourism sector in Alexandria is looking forward to the winter season, hoping to compensate for the relative decrease witnessed during the summer season according to tourism experts in Alexandria.
The leaders of the sector said that the reason for the decline in the summer season is the rise in prices of tourism services on one hand and the North Coast resort accounting for most of the domestic tourism on the other hand, which limited the tourism in Alexandria to the low-spending segments.
General Ahmed Hegazy, the head of the Central Administration of Tourism and Beaches, said that the summer season this year in Alexandria was not at the desired level compared to last year.
He added that the province plans to increase the number of free beaches during the coming summer up from 27 beaches now, including 21 beaches that offer service-on-demand and six beaches supervised by the governorate.
The number of beaches run by the governorate is expected to increase to eight beaches, through adding one beach in Montazah district, another in Gomrok area, and Mandara.
Hegazy explained that the demand for beaches has been affected during the current year as a result of the media reports on the spread of jellyfish on the coast of Alexandria at the beginning of the season, which has greatly affected the turnout rates, in addition to the short season that crossed over with Ramadan.
He added that the movements of holidaymakers this season were mostly one-day trips and quick visits, which increased, relatively, during weekends and the holidays, yet remaining below the rates realized last year.
He pointed out that the current season witnessed many violations on the beaches, including the requirements and raising prices.
The total fines paid by the governorate to these beaches amounted to approximately EGP 50m, according to Hegazy, who said that the governorate has implemented a plan to develop the beaches of the province during the summer season, including developing the toilets and upgrading the rescue system.
The governorate is also surveying the beaches to offer the remainder of them by the beginning of the new year, and before the 2018 summer season.
The governorate of Alexandria has 40-50 hotels, as well as 50 beaches, including 27 free beaches, of which 21 are service-on-demand and six govenorate-run beaches. The cost of renting beach umbrellas stands at EGP 3, and EGP 1 for the chairs.
There are also about 20 more beaches with entry fees of EGP 5 that includes service. The clients of these beaches are allowed to bring their own beach facilities without paying for them.
Meanwhile, the prices for entering distinguished beaches range between EGP 7 and 10. In addition to those 47 beaches, there are three tourist beaches, Beau Rivage, Mandra, and Stanley, with an entry price of EGP 15 per person.
For his part, Osama al-Khouly, general director of the Ministry of Tourism in Alexandria, said that hotel occupancy during the summer season ranged between 60 and 80%, up by 40% from last year.
He added that the ministry is seeking to have a “stand” in all tourism exhibitions to promote Alexandria abroad, next to developing hotels during the winter in several phases to ensure that they continue working during the development process, in addition to holding seminars for the employees in the tourism sector to raise awareness of how to deal with the tourists.
Osama al-Sayyad, the director of Alexandria’s Qaitbay Citadel, said that there were some 25,000 visitors during Eid al-Adha, including Egyptians, Arabs, and foreigners.
The most prominent Arab tourists are Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Libyans, in addition to Italians, French, Chinese, and Filipinos.
Ticket prices range from EGP 5 and 10 for Egyptians; EGP 15 and 30 for foreigners. He expected the demand to continue until the end of September.
He added that a tender is being submitted by the Board of Directors of the Supreme Council of Antiquities to establish a cafeteria inside the castle in the Islamic style and tourist style to serve the visitors of the castle. He noted that work hours have also been extended to 6 PM, noting that the demand usually rises from June through to the beginning of October.
Mohamed Ezzat, Treasurer of the Tourism Companies Chamber in Alexandria, said that Alexandria is now outside the world tourist map despite once being a hotbed for major celebrations and events and sports competitions and although charter flights from Alexandria have been made available to facilitate arrival to the city at affordable prices.
He added that the internal trips focus on a number of attractions such as the castle, the Alexandria lighthouse, gardens of the Montazah Palace, the Library of Alexandria, the field of mosques, and the tombs of Alamein in the northern coast.
He pointed out that the prices of domestic travel programs increased by 30-50% from last year, due to the float of the pound and the hike in raw material prices. He urged the need to increase attention given to Alexandria, in terms of the city’s cleanliness, its beaches, and archaeological sites to promote the city again.
Wassim Mohy El-Din, Chairman of San Giovanni Tourism Group and former head of the Chamber of Hotels, said that Alexandria has witnessed a good summer season with a large and steady rate in the occupancy rates of hotels in the province during the summer season at 85% of the total hotel capacity across all hotel segments.
He added that tourism in Alexandria has become attractive mainly to the simple and less-income classes to turn the city into the resort of the poor, while the rich classes migrated to the resorts and compounds of the northern coast. “The hotel guests were confined to rich classes, especially after the rise in the prices of hotel services and changing the priorities of citizens,” he added.
Moreover, he explained that Alexandria is witnessing a new kind of foreign tourism, namely Indian and Chinese tourism, which is expected to grow significantly over the next few years as a result of efforts to stimulate tourism and focus on attracting new and different nationalities.
He added that the tourism activity hopes to revive conference tourism in Alexandria, which will call for concerted efforts of all parties, whether by the state to hold conferences in the province, or by the private sector and investors through increased investments in this sector.
He pointed to the presence of many factors that led to higher prices of tourism and hotel services in the province, mainly the value added tax, and float the pound, which raised all the prices of rooms and hotel services rates by 20-25%, explaining that the 5-star hotel prices reached EGP 5,000 per night, while the lowest hotel price stood at EGP 400 per night.