Since the beginning of this year, our hotel has worked no more than 20 days in total, said chairperson of Tobya For Real Estate and Tourism Investment in Taba, Nadia Shalaby.
In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Shalaby said that occupancies rose to 50% during spring throughout April, fuelled by the flow of tourism from Israel.
What is the average occupancy rate at Tobya now?
Occupancy stands at zero. However, the hotel is still open with the hope that things will improve in the coming period. The hotel worked just 20 days at most since the beginning of the year. The peak time, over the 20 days, was in April during spring. The flow was mainly comprised of Israelis and Israeli Arabs who visited the region, raising occupancy to 50%.
Shortly after, occupancies fell back to zero again. We have been suffering losses throughout the past five years.
Is Tobya Hotel part of the “Egypt in Our Heart” campaign that provides discounted tours?
No, I did not sign up for the campaign, and I cannot bear it. The prices it stipulates are very low. The hotel cannot offer a four-day tour for EGP 400 including transportation. The cost of transportation from Cairo to Sharm El-Sheikh is about EGP 90 per person.
I wonder what those hotels included in the campaign do. What food they could possibly serve guests at these prices amid an increase in the average operating cost for hotels in Egypt due to the higher costs of food recently.
Has Tobya Hotel contracted with a foreign hotel management company that facilitates its marketing, whether in Egypt or abroad?
This is a very important question. I would like to point out that the majority of hotels run by foreign hotel management companies are not able to withstand losses and lack of tourism in the region over the past five years. This should be subject to a study as, in fact, most companies still operating are run by Egyptian companies. Very few hotels in Spain, which receives 40 million tourists per year, are run by international hotel management companies.
In terms of hiring a marketing company in Egypt, I have already conducted negotiations with a company but I was told the price will be EGP 300. I had to turn down the offer, since I cannot rent a single room for EGP 400 per night. This price barely covers costs and the wages of our workers who are still employed, without generating any profits.
I recently received a text from a client who wanted to stay at the hotel during Ramadan. I replied that the price is EGP 400 per night. The client sent me back a text with a price list of hotels in Sharm El-Shiekh, including offers of EGP 350 for three days, including transportation. I cannot imagine how this programme will be presented.
Egyptians complain about the high prices hotels offer them, while foreigners are offered lower prices. What is your response?
The prices my hotel offers are good. I cannot serve poor-quality food and I know this because I eat the same food I serve my guests.
In general, Egyptians do not like Taba in the summer. They prefer visiting Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, or Ain Sokhna. During winter, they go to Luxor and Aswan.
In Easter holidays, I set the price at $100 per night and it was a favourable price. This price, however, is less than that in Eilat or Aqaba, Jordan. On average, the prices there amount to $350 per night for a single room.
What do you ask from the state to support you in light of your five-year losses?
The state, the government, and water companies have been supportive of us, but the insurance fund still calls hotels seeking hotel insurance premiums. I do not know where to get this money when I am only making a loss. Should I let my employees go to overcome this?
I call upon the state and its Ministry of Tourism to prepare strong tour programmes that offer high-quality tours for Egyptians all year round.
Sinai is a strong investment opportunity for Egypt, if properly used, whether in terms of its natural resources, tourism, or people.