Life & StyleTravel

Egypt looks to India to boost struggling tourism market

As the country’s tourism sector strives to get back on its feet following the popular uprising that led to Hosni Mubarak’s downfall last year, the Egyptian Tourism Authority is planning to kick off a major promotional campaign in India this March.

“The number of Indians visiting Egypt has declined sharply compared to other nationalities. The Indian itinerary is mainly based on Cairo and Alexandria sightseeing,” Doaa Fathy, the head of the Indian Department at Travco Travel, tells Egypt Independent. She said Egypt lost around 55 to 60 percent of Indian tourists in 2011.

In the wake of the 18-day uprising that deposed Mubarak, about 10 million tourists visited Egypt in 2011, approximately 32 percent less than in 2010. Tourism makes up 13.5 percent of the national income and forms the backbone of foreign exchange earnings, Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour told Al-Masry Al-Youm in December.

The Egyptian Public Authority for Tourism Promotion, in cooperation with a number of tourism and travel agencies, is launching an Egyptian tourism campaign in India next month, aiming to branch out into new markets and raise the awareness of Indian citizens regarding the various destinations Egypt has to offer.

“We want to change the misconception that Egypt’s tourism attractions are restricted to Pharaonic civilization. Besides cultural tourism, the country features the charming beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada that should be known to Indians,” says Moatz Sedky, Travco Travel’s deputy general manager of tourism operations.

The campaign has an extensive agenda, comprising exhibitions, folklore shows and presentations on the country’s best hotels and resorts, and covering Luxor, Aswan, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Among the campaign’s goals is changing the shocking image of Egypt presented in the media, which pushes tourists to stay away.  

“The media’s focus on violent incidents that have been lately taking place in Egypt depicts the country as unsafe destination,” Fathy says. “However, the unrest is limited to Tahrir Square and does not reach Red Sea resort areas.”

Sedky, who is one of the campaign’s representatives, explains that a large group of experienced and well-known Indian travel writers and journalists were invited to attend all the events, believing this is the most effective way to reach the largest base of clients in India.

“Indians spend 10-15 percent of their income on reading. So, if readers find impressive reviews about the country written by trusted sources, this will surely attract millions to our country,” he says.

The government has doubled its tourism promotional budget for India to US$1 million in 2011, according to Sedky.

EgyptAir is discussing with Indian authorities the launch of direct flights to Delhi from Cairo to boost tourism, said Nabila Mahmoud, a sales officer at EgyptAir.

The country’s national carrier operates three flights to Mumbai every week on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

When asked about the expected impact of the campaign, Sedky says that South Asia has a lot of potential, but the effect of the marketing campaign will not be apparent for some time.  

“We are expecting a dramatic rise in tourist inflow following greater political stability in the near future,” he says.

The campaign will tour Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, but the exact launch date is not yet set. 

Related Articles

Back to top button