EGYPT: Reaching for Former Glory

IN AN ATTEMPT TO RETAIN THE TOURISM SECTOR AS IT WAS ONCE RENOWNED FOR, EGYPT HAS PLACED A FOCUS ON QUALITATIVE TOURISM RATHER THAN QUANTITATIVE.

Despite a descend in inflow of highly valuable tourists, the North African destination has experienced a recent boost, especially in the last quarter of 2016, enhancing numerous attempts to regain its former glory as a traditionally renowned destination for those seeking a fresh, all-year round experience.

The country has been focussing on a more personalised approach to each holiday-maker, providing an array of experiences without compromising on its famed history and its cultural monuments.

Mariam Nassef, senior public relations executive, InterContinental Cairo Citystars, commented that mainly families originating from Gulf countries visit the property to enjoy shopping away from the bustling crowds.

Meanwhile, the company is trying to attract more and more business from different European and newly emerging markets such as the Far East, China and Latin America for leisure and MICE […] as it is the fastest growing section of the international tourism market.

Agreeing, Ghada Salah, director, sales and marketing, Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh, stated, "Our guests are coming from Egypt, GCC, Middle East, Germany, Italy and Ukraine, seeking leisure and corporate travel for MICE."

On the other hand, Franz Kielnhofer, general manager, Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas & Spa, said, "Currently 70 percent of our business is from the local market, the other 30 percent is a mix of Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Ukraine and Switzerland."

Sameh Sobhy, general manager, InterContinental Cairo Semiramis, stated, "Various nationalities from the GCC make up the majority of our guests."

Elaborating on these views, Alaa Akel, general manager, Jaz Collection and Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts, Egypt, explained, "Every destination in Egypt has its own feeder market. Upper Egypt [is for] those looking for the secrets of the pharaohs; Red Sea is prefered by German speaking countries, Benelux, Nordic and Russians; Sharm El Sheikh main market is now Ukraine and Eastern European countries.

[...] Taba is the destination for neighbouring countries like the Israelis and Jordanians."

He further added that Cario and Alexandria mainly rely on the local market for business coming from corporate companies.

QUALITY VERSUS QUANTITY

Despite previous misfortunes and restrictions on travel, industry professionals, governmental officials and locals are taking strides to help the country return to its former position in the tourist sector.

Nassef explained that the qualitative side of Egypt tourism is evident in that it encompasses almost two thirds of the ancient world monuments. She further added, "Our hotel keeps promoting this image through our concierge team and encourage guests to enjoy a quality time catering all interests and preferences."

Further elaborating, Aly Radwan, manager, media and marketing, Robinson Club Soma Bay, said, "[The resort] offers unique holiday experiences all over the country with lots of sports activities, entertainment, events, wellness and fitness as well as one of the most qualitative dining offers [thanks to century-long philosophies]."

He further stated that hospitality efforts, cultural offerings and pleasant year-round weather contribute to the South Sinai destination.

Moreover, Sobhy explained how Egypt boasts featured attractions that make it idealic. "Egypt has a plethora of qualities that make it ideal with regard to quality tourism. [...].

The country is very diverse and thus serves countless interests." Akel confirmed, "It is one of our commitments to guests to focus on quality in every aspect.

We do not believe in quality.

We actually live it."

He further explained how quality is not limited to the materialistic matters of tourism, yet, it goes beyond this, reaching as far as sustainability, environmental awareness and development of the local communities along with value for money.

This is attested by the fact that according to Akel, the group's properties have been certified by ISO 14001, following their sustainable efforts.

Lars Geweyer, CEO, Al Dau Development Hotel Division, explained, "The quality of service has always been the main aspect when it comes to success in the hospitality industry."

He further attested that Egypt has a diverse hospitality sector with great attention to detail when it comes to guests.

The resorts of the Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, according to Geweyer, offer the highest rewards in terms of entwining luxurious facilities, exceptional service, beaches, amongst the properties in Cairo and Alexandria catering to the business tourist situated under the tree of value.

Still on the subject of quality, Ahmed Osama, head, international and external communications section, EGYPTAIR, explained, "The strategy is based on improving and modernising the fleet by adding state-of–the-art airplanes that rather suit the long- and medium-haul operation to several destinations within EGYPTAIR network."

Among improvements are audio and videos on demand, refreshed interior, enhanced stowage lockers and LED lighting.

Osama added, "As for fuel consumption, the new airplane structural improvements reduce it by two percent, as well as two percent reduction in carbon emissions, aiding sustainability of the region."