Tourism – Daily News Egypt https://dailynewsegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Thu, 21 Jun 2018 11:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Cairo, Al Khobar selected as touristic hotspots with 15%, 9% forecasted growth respectively: Colliers https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/06/06/cairo-al-khobar-selected-as-touristic-hotspots-with-15-9-forecasted-growth-respectively-colliers/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/06/06/cairo-al-khobar-selected-as-touristic-hotspots-with-15-9-forecasted-growth-respectively-colliers/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 14:01:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=661857 Cairo hotels were named touristic hotspots by Colliers International, with a forecasted growth of 15% in revenue per available room (RevPAR). According to Colliers’ the MENA Hotel Forecast May 2018 report. The witnessed increase was driven by occupancy boosted by the growth in the corporate, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and events), and leisure segments. In …

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Cairo hotels were named touristic hotspots by Colliers International, with a forecasted growth of 15% in revenue per available room (RevPAR). According to Colliers’ the MENA Hotel Forecast May 2018 report. The witnessed increase was driven by occupancy boosted by the growth in the corporate, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and events), and leisure segments.

In Al Khobar’s case, it is forecasted to grow by 9%. Its hotels market in recent months witnessed a positive growth in RevPAR. The growth was due to the increase in both corporate and long-term stays. The report indicates that the recent hikes in oil prices might be the reason behind the growth momentum.

Another remarkable growth in RevPAR took place in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada hotels, with a forecasted growth of 54% and 32%, up from the 45% and 31% in April’s report.

Furthermore, the report said that Saudi Arabia’s Medina and Jeddah maintained their confident and steady performance in the period, both with 0% expected RevPAR growth, backed by the start of the Ramadan season, the return of the Egyptian market to drive occupancy—in Medina’s case—and an increase in government-related business in Jeddah.

On the other hand, Bahrain’s Manama and Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh continue to feel the negative consequences of limited corporate and MICE demand, as well as the return of the summer season and Ramadan in Riyadh’s case. Manama and Ras al-Khaimah are expected to respectively witness 8% and 5% decline in RevPAR during the same period.

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Egypt is African country with second most major hotels: Knight Frank https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/06/03/egypt-is-african-country-with-second-most-major-hotels-knight-frank/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/06/03/egypt-is-african-country-with-second-most-major-hotels-knight-frank/#respond Sun, 03 Jun 2018 16:50:13 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=661516 Knight Frank, which is a global real estate consultancy company, announced in a report that Egypt has the second highest number of major hotels in Africa after South Africa. The report stated that hotel supply levels vary greatly across Africa, where Morocco ranked third after Egypt with 153 hotels branded or chain hotels. Furthermore, South …

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Knight Frank, which is a global real estate consultancy company, announced in a report that Egypt has the second highest number of major hotels in Africa after South Africa.

The report stated that hotel supply levels vary greatly across Africa, where Morocco ranked third after Egypt with 153 hotels branded or chain hotels.

Furthermore, South Africa that has the largest number of major hotels, with 430, which is almost 30% of the continent’s chain hotels.

Meanwhile, the report stated that Tunisia is in fourth place with 103 hotels.

Concerning Egypt, the report stated that it has 300 established hotels and resorts across its major cities such as Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.

“From a Middle Eastern perspective, we are beginning to see something of an uptick in the activities of renowned investors and developers building portfolios of properties across key hospitality hotspots, particularly Morocco and Egypt in North Africa, as well as emerging locations in sub-Saharan Africa,” the report said.

The report pointed to the new Fairmont Citystars Sharm El-Sheikh which is in the pipeline and due to open this year.

There are now various hotels in the process of launching new projects in Egypt, including the Marriott and Hilton.

The report stated the key performance indicators for 2017 by country revealed that Egypt had 55% occupancy rate in 2017. Meanwhile, it stated that the average daily rate (ADR) was $66.

The tourism sector is one of the most important sources of income for Egypt, as it now “represents 15% of GDP,” Egyptian Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat announced last month on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market exhibition that took place in Dubai.

Egypt has many touristic destinations. Meanwhile, out of 25 cities, Egypt’s Hurghada ranked 21st on the list of top tourist destinations in the world in 2018, according to TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel and hotels website.

Noteworthy, Egypt witnessed a significant drop in tourist arrivals following the downing of the Russian plane in October 2015, already in decline after the 2011 revolution. Consequently, the number of tourist arrivals dropped from 14.7 million people in 2010 to 5.4 million by 2016, with annual revenue falling from $12.5bn to $3.8bn.

One of the main drivers behind the decline in tourist arrivals was the drop in Russian tourists, whose share of foreign arrivals fell from 68% in 2015 to 13% by mid-2016.

But in 2018, after the resumption of flights between Moscow and Cairo last April, tourism started to gain pace. Al-Mashat previously announced that the number of tourists visiting Egypt jumped by 30% during the first quarter of 2018 compared to last year.

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Egypt is second most popular destination for Swedish tourists outside Europe: ambassador https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/23/egypt-is-second-most-popular-destination-for-swedish-tourists-outside-europe-ambassador/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/23/egypt-is-second-most-popular-destination-for-swedish-tourists-outside-europe-ambassador/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 15:52:39 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=660448 Tourism revenues jump 83% in Q1 2018, says government official

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Swedish Ambassador to Egypt Jan Thesleff told Daily News Egypt that Egypt is the second most popular destination for Swedish tourism outside Europe.

The ambassador said that tourism is moving forward very quickly, explaining that before the first revolution in Egypt, there were 210,000 Swedish tourists every year, then from 2011 to 2013, there was a downturn in tourism.

He continued, saying that this year, there are 10 or 11 flights coming in every week, pointing out that Swedish tourists are travelling not only to Cairo, but also to Hurghada and other areas of the Red Sea coast.

“What’s interesting to note is that in the past, Swedish tourists were mostly coming in the winter season from October to April; now they come year-round, they even come in the summer,” Thesleff said.

He assured that now Egypt is a year-round destination for Swedish tourism, expecting that his country’s investments and tourism will both grow next year.

Meanwhile, a government official said on Wednesday that Egypt’s revenues from the tourism sector jumped 83.3% to reach about $2.2bn in the first quarter (Q1) of this year, according to Reuters.

The official added that the number of tourists travelling to Egypt rose by 37.1% to reach 2.383 million in the quarter.

Furthermore, the official estimated that the number of nights stayed was 23.8 million nights in Q1.

Earlier, during a press conference on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market exhibition that took place in Dubai last month, Egyptian Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat announced that the number of tourists visiting Egypt jumped 30% during Q1 2018 compared to last year.

She added that tourism now represents 15% of the total sources of income for the national economy.

Tourism suffered a devastating blow when a Russian passenger plane crashed in Sinai in late October 2015 and all its passengers were killed.

Following the plane crash, Russia imposed a travel ban on Egypt, while Britain banned travel to Sinai. Russian flights returned to Cairo last April.

Tourism flows have improved following the Central Bank of Egypt’s decision to float the Egyptian pound in November 2016, where slashed the value of the local currency by about half and boosted the competitiveness of the sector.

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Ramadan in Maldives https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/20/ramadan-in-maldives/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/20/ramadan-in-maldives/#respond Sun, 20 May 2018 10:00:58 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659832 The Maldives is a group of coral islands in the Indian Ocean. It is known for its beaches, blue lagoons, and extensive reefs. The capital is Malé, and its official language is Divehi. All its population are Muslims and most of them have Indian and Sri Lankan roots. The people of the Maldives are devout …

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The Maldives is a group of coral islands in the Indian Ocean. It is known for its beaches, blue lagoons, and extensive reefs. The capital is Malé, and its official language is Divehi. All its population are Muslims and most of them have Indian and Sri Lankan roots.

The people of the Maldives are devout and keen on Islamic etiquette. Most of the women there wear hijab—a headscarf to cover their head and hair—and restaurants are closed during the daytime in Ramadan. The hustle and bustle of life stop at the Iftar time. No one can eat or drink in public places during the fasting time. They flock to mosques at the time of each prayer and care very much to follow religious TV shows.

Muslims in the Maldives prepare for the holy month of Ramadan very early, starting from the month of Sha’baan (the month that precedes Ramadan).

Maldivian people spent the night before Ramadan on the coasts until the morning. They decorated mosques and hung lights in preparation for the holy month. They also do more charity during this month.

The beginning of Ramadan is usually announced by the Mufti of the Maldives, based on the visual sighting of the crescent moon by a special committee of scholars and preachers. During Ramadan, the Maldivian government decrease working hours, while companies and merchants announce great discounts for the public throughout the month.

In the Maldives, Ramadan is characterised by crowded mosques and the increase of shopping. Maldivian families and friends hold celebrations and exchange visits. They also attend sermons at mosques together.

During Ramadan, parents educate and train their children to pray, fast, and read the Qur’an. Meanwhile, mosques provide many sermons according to a schedule prepared in advance.

During the Iftar, the Maldivians held feasts in squares and streets, which are hosted by the rich and the volunteers, while many houses are decorated with lightings.

The Maldives have their own cuisine that presents many delicious dishes served throughout Ramadan, such as Garudhiya, a fish served with rice, lime, chili, and onions, and kulhi boakiba, a spicy fish cake.

The food in the Maldives is varied in a way that makes it delicious and healthy. Due to the nature of the country consisting of islands surrounded by seawater, it is natural that fish, especially tuna, become the main ingredient in the Maldivian cuisine with a mix of Arabic, Indian, Sri Lankan, and oriental influences.

Coconuts are another major part of many dishes in Maldives and can be served in grated form, as milk or as coconut oil, which is used in deep frying. Favourite fish include skipjack tuna, little tuna, yellowfin tuna, frigate tuna, bigeye scad, wahoo, and mahi-mahi.

The Maldivians were influenced by the Arab cuisine, as “Tharid” became one of the main dishes that are popular during Ramadan, especially in feasts. It consists of rice, mutton, or beef, and some types of dry bread. There are also meat or fish tannins, usually cooked in the oven and filled with flavours and spices. They are served in the Iftar as traditional dishes.

The meat and chicken dishes are only served on special occasions and holidays, while the popular dishes include fried fish, curry, and fish soup.

At the suhoor meal, some prefer to eat steamed rice with pieces of fish, while others just have syrup with yogurt, sugar, wheat, and dried fruits. Coconut is the main crop in the Maldives, besides other fruits and vegetables that are planted on some islands, hence most of the food produce are imported.

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Public Sector Affairs Ministry directs HOTAC to expand in 3-, 4-star hotels https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/16/public-sector-affairs-ministry-directs-hotac-to-expand-in-3-4-star-hotels/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/16/public-sector-affairs-ministry-directs-hotac-to-expand-in-3-4-star-hotels/#respond Wed, 16 May 2018 15:14:45 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659631 There is need to resort to most distinguished international hotel management companies to manage historic hotels, says minister

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Minister of Public Sector Affairs Khaled Badawy directed the Holding Company for Tourism and Hotels (HOTAC) to expand in three- and four-star hotels through partnerships with private sector investors, and to work on an inventory of the distinct sites across the governorates of the republic with the possibility of exploiting some real estate assets owned by sister companies in the sector.

During his meeting with the Chairperson of HOTAC Mervat Ali Hataba, the minister was updated on the sector’s companies’ performance and the situation of projects’ development and discussing future projects.

The minister stressed the need to resort to the most distinguished hotel management companies in the world for the management of historic hotels owned by the HOTAC and its subsidiaries or those located in strategic and unique locations, noting that these hotels represent a tourist destination for many, both inside and outside Egypt.

Notably, the minister explained that such procedures would help in maintaining the distinction of these hotels and ensuring the efficiency of services provided to guests.

Badawy also directed the management of the HOTAC to develop a plan to expand investment partnerships to develop internal trading companies in light of recent decisions by the general assemblies of these companies by merging them into two companies. In addition, he asked them to seek integration between their subsidiaries and cooperation in providing services to improve economies of scale.

In Q1 2018, hotel room supply grew by 900 keys compared to Q1 2017, with the growth occurring in the Cairo market, according to Colliers International’s MENA Quarterly Review Q1 2018 report.

The report cites Cairo as the sole driver of growth in Egypt’s hotel supply with the opening of the Sheraton Hotel Cairo and Casino and the Hilton Cairo Heliopolis in Q3 2017 and Q1 2018 respectively. The openings contributed to the 5% growth in supply for Cairo seen in Q1 2018 over the previous year.

Moreover, the Colliers report said that the current period of stability has also encouraged Russia and Germany, two key source markets, to reopen direct flights to Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh. If this trend continues, it is expected to further increase the demand on the country’s prominent tourist destinations.

The HOTAC is an Egyptian joint stock holding company established in accordance with Public Enterprises Law 203 of 1991.


The purpose of the HOTAC, according to its statute, is to take part in the development of the national economy in the fields of tourism, hotels, sound and light shows, and other complementary and related economic activities undertaken by its affiliated companies.

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Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada hotels named touristic hotspots; 45%, 31% forecasted growth respectively: Colliers https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/15/sharm-el-sheikh-hurghada-hotels-named-touristic-hotspots-45-31-forecasted-growth-respectively-colliers/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/15/sharm-el-sheikh-hurghada-hotels-named-touristic-hotspots-45-31-forecasted-growth-respectively-colliers/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 20:06:40 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659567 Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada hotels were named touristic hotspots by Colliers International, with a forecasted growth of 45% and 31% respectively in revenues per available rooms (RevPAR). The surge is a result of an improved security perception and a surge in international leisure demand, according to Colliers’ The MENA Hotel Forecast April 2018 report. On …

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Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada hotels were named touristic hotspots by Colliers International, with a forecasted growth of 45% and 31% respectively in revenues per available rooms (RevPAR). The surge is a result of an improved security perception and a surge in international leisure demand, according to Colliers’ The MENA Hotel Forecast April 2018 report.

On the other hand, Cairo and Alexandria are expected to witness limited increase in RevPAR, with 6% and 4% expected respectively.

According to the report, both Saudi Arabia’s Mecca and Jeddah maintained their confident and steady performance in the period, with -1% and -1% expected RevPAR growth respectively, backed by the return of the Ramadan season and an increase in government-related business.

On the other hand, Bahrain’s Manama and the UAE’s Ras al-Khaimah continue to feel the negative consequences of limited corporate and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and events) demand, as well as the return of the summer season and Ramadan in Ras al-Khaimah’s case. Manama and Ras al-Khaimah are expected to respectively witness 13% and 9% decline in RevPAR during the same period.

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Tourism investors present recommendations to parliament’s tourism, civil aviation committee to develop sector https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/15/tourism-investors-present-recommendations-to-parliaments-tourism-civil-aviation-committee-to-develop-sector/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/15/tourism-investors-present-recommendations-to-parliaments-tourism-civil-aviation-committee-to-develop-sector/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 15:33:51 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659499 Cairo airport has many disadvantages in services provided to tourists, says Chamber of Tourism Companies, Agencies head

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Parliament’s tourism and civil aviation committee held a meeting on Monday with tourism investors, associations, and other stakeholders to learn their vision for developing the sector and address challenges.

The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat and Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF) Chairperson Nora Ali, as well as the heads and representatives of tourism chambers, tourism investors, and a number of hotel managers, as well as agents, members of parliament’s tourism committee, and others.

Nora Ali said, “we should focus on training and development of services instead of paying attention to increasing the fees imposed on investors in the field of tourism because some laws, including the irrigation law currently being discussed, disregard the right of the tourism sector.”

Investors pointed out the importance of consolidating approvals and permits being under the umbrella of only one authority.

For his part, Ahmed Al-Waseef, chairperson of the steering committee of the Egyptian Hotels Association, said that there is a serious desire by the government to develop the state’s resources by amending a set of laws, but unfortunately, some of those laws are applied retrospectively, some of which are overly prescriptive.

Hisham Gabr, member of the steering committee of Chamber of Diving and Water Sports (CDWS), explained that 80% of beach tourism is located in South Sinai, but unfortunately, nature reserves have been violated for 20 years and there is not enough protection for them.

He also explained that there are illegal entities operating in the sector. Moreover, he said, there is no kind of monitoring of them, which leads to constant accidents, and furthermore, there is no deterrent in Egyptian law for the phenomenon.

He also demanded addressing the harassment of tourists.

Nader El-Beblawi, head of the Chamber of Tourism Companies and Agencies, said that the visa system in Egypt is never understood. “For example, the Gulf states now have more than 800,000 Syrians, including businesspersons and investors. Why should Egypt not attract Syrians and facilitate their entry to Egypt to work and invest?” Beblawi asked, adding, “Cairo airport has many disadvantages related to services provided to tourists.”

Adel Al Masri, head of the Chamber of Hotel Facilities, explained that there are about 1,400 restaurants in Egypt. “We face problems with the local authorities that delay operation permits, although the only thing we need is a guarantee that the establishment will be protected.”

Manal Hussein, non-executive chairperson of Orascom Development Egypt, spoke about the importance of encouraging tourism in Taba.

Hussein explained that the Ministry of Aviation announced that the airport there will be ready for operation in mid-June.

She added that Orascom will receive tourism flights from Poland in October, hoping that the Ministry of Aviation will not postpone the operation of the airport, so as not to prevent the flow of tourists into Taba.

Ahmed Idris, representative of the tourism committee of parliament, explained that there are about 200 vessels out of 236 vessels that are not currently operating in Luxor.

For her part, Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat pointed out that the sector’s problems require structural reforms and need more time.

Al-Mashat stressed the importance of studying international experiences of countries that have a unified law of tourism before the issuance of such a law.

Sahar Talaat Mustafa, head of parliament’s tourism committee, said that the committee will work to compile the problems submitted by investors and stakeholders in order to develop the necessary solutions.

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Sharm El-Sheikh hotels record 44%, 37% occupancy, ADR improvement respectively in Q1 2018: Colliers https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/14/sharm-el-sheikh-hotels-record-44-37-occupancy-adr-improvement-respectively-in-q1-2018-colliers/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/14/sharm-el-sheikh-hotels-record-44-37-occupancy-adr-improvement-respectively-in-q1-2018-colliers/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 18:44:59 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=659392 Cairo is main driver of growth in Egypt’s hotel supply

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In the first quarter of 2018, Sharm El-Sheikh hotels were on the path of recovery, achieving a year-over-year improvement of 44% in occupancy and 37% in average daily rates (ADR), according to Colliers International’s The MENA Quarterly Review Q1 2018 report.

Furthermore, the report indicates that in Q1, hotel room supply grew by 900 keys compared to Q1 2017, with the growth occurring in the Cairo market. The report cites Cairo as the sole driver of growth in Egypt’s hotel supply with the opening of the Sheraton Hotel Cairo and Casino and the Hilton Heliopolis in Q3 2017 and Q1 2018 respectively. The openings contributed to the 5% growth in supply for Cairo seen in Q1 2018 over the previous year.

According to the report, operators such as Hilton Worldwide, Egyptian local operator Travco, and the UAE-based Emaar have already made announcements for new projects in Egypt, as prospects improve in the tourism sector.

The new projects will contribute 7,000 additional rooms that are expected to enter the market by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2020.

The report forecast that Sharm El-Sheikh is expected to witness 23% growth in occupancy levels by FY 2018, backed by the strong Q1 2018 results, which indicate a positive performance in the Egyptian market from its most recent low in 2016.

Moreover, Colliers’ report concludes that the current period of stability has also encouraged Russia and Germany, two key source markets, to reopen direct flights to Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh. If this trend continues, it is expected to further increase the demand on the country’s prominent tourist destinations.

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NMEC offers magnificent display of Egyptian civilisation antiquities throughout eras https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/03/nmec-offers-magnificent-display-egyptian-civilisation-antiquities-throughout-eras/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/05/03/nmec-offers-magnificent-display-egyptian-civilisation-antiquities-throughout-eras/#respond Thu, 03 May 2018 09:00:58 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=658400 It gathers 50,000 archaeological artefacts, paintings, jewellery

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If you live in Egypt and find yourself curious about its antiquities throughout the eras, then it is recommended that you pay a visit to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) and have it among one of the local destinations on your touring list.

The NMEC is not as famous as the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square and the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) under construction near the pyramids of Giza. However, the NMEC is located across a rare natural lake called Ain El-Sira.

It is situated in Cairo near the archaeological site of Egypt’s first Islamic capital of Fustat, and near the area known as Coptic Cairo and Amr ibn Al-Aas Mosque. In addition, the museum is located on an area of 135,000 sqm.

The site is visually connected to all historical urban sites of ancient greater Cairo: to the far west, you will find the pyramid of Saqqara and the pyramids of Giza.

Photo Handout to DNE

Nearer west to the museum stands the Babylon Fortress from the Roman period and Coptic churches , while Islamic Cairo to the north, evident in Saladin Citadel in the north-east, draw the cultural image and visualise the landscape of Egypt up until modern times.

The NMEC is not fully opened yet; some halls are still under construction, but the museum welcomes visitors to enjoy the currently exhibited monuments. Therefore, if you decide to go, include it as part of your tour of the ancient Cairo area.

The currently opened halls and significant location provide a premium location for sightseeing.

Mahrous Said Mahrous, general director of the NMEC, said that the history of the museum began in the 1980s when the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) organised the campaign for saving Nubian antiquities behind the High Dam by establishing two museums: the Nubian Museum in Aswan and the NMEC in Giza.

The UNESCO is involved in boosting technical support in terms of trainings and exhibition development, part of the UNESCO aimed at preserving Egypt’s cultural heritage, which was launched in the 1960s.

Mahrous told Daily News Egypt that the Nubian Museum was opened in 1997, while the NMEC was planned to be established in the El Gezira area in Giza, but the location was changed to El-Fustat since the Opera House was decided to be built in that initial location instead.

He said that the NMEC has a magnificent location overlooking the Ain El-Sira lake. The area was allocated in 2002, while construction work began in 2004, he said, noting that the first phase of construction ended in 2011, executed with a EGP 376m budget.

“In 2010, the second phase of the NMEC construction work was announced to be executed by Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) for EGP 333m. The GIS built the infrastructure and basic construction,” noted Mahrous.

Photo Handout to DNE

Additionally, Mahrous added that the museum includes antiquity storehouses, a centre for receiving antiquities, documentary centre, control room, and royal mummies storehouse, mentioning that the NMEC is a megaproject with a construction budget around EGP 3bn.

“We opened a temporary hall last year, displaying handicraft antiquities. Anyone can come and enjoy the antiquities’ beauty, while three other halls will be opened by the end of 2018,” said Mahrous.

He clarified that the cost of the three planned halls is about EGP 606m, including the royal mummies hall, the core exhibition hall, and 4 MW power plants, noting that the museum already has a 10 MW power plant, but the expansions require greater power capacity. 

“By opening the three planned halls, we will show 50% of the museum’s overall capacity, then the rest of the museum will be finished as soon as possible according to the cabinet’s directives,” said Mahrous.

Mahrous added that the next period will witness the speeding up of the constructions work and implementing a study on antiquity availability to set the museum exhibition scenario via a Japanese company contracting with an Egyptian consultant.

“In two years, the project will be fully opened if the funds are available,” said Mahrous, adding that the project is locally financed and there is no intention to collaborate with foreign partners up until now, to the contrary of the GEM project, which is co-financed by Japan.

“I cannot predict the needed finance for implementing the rest of the project because the prices are unpredictable nowadays, especially that we import many accessories that are needed for the showcases for example,” mentioned Mahrous, adding that Egypt has the antiquities, but it needs to gain more experience on the know-how from abroad.

 

Photo Handout to DNE

The NMEC is the first museum of civilisation in the Arab world and the only museum in Egypt that gives an overview of all the eras of Egyptian civilisation, ranging from the prehistory period to present day, as a layered cumulative product of the interaction of the Egyptian people on their land throughout history, taking a multidisciplinary thematic approach designed to highlight Egypt’s tangible and intangible heritage.

Moreover, the NMEC is an important cultural, educational, recreational, and research centre for local and international visitors and scholars.

The museum gathers about 50,000 objects including archaeological and ethnographic artefacts, paintings and jewellery, and intangible masterpieces ranging from prehistory to the present day.

The museum’s exhibition galleries are nine halls including the core exhibition, thematic galleries, royal museum gallery, temporary exhibition gallery, and a gallery about Cairo.

The exhibitions and galleries at the NMEC are designed for visitors to walk through Egyptian civilisation chronologically.

The core exhibition hall highlights the principle achievements of Egyptian civilisation in a chronological approach featuring the main historical periods: prehistoric, Pharaonic, Greek-Roman, Coptic, Islamic, modern, and contemporary.

The thematic galleries include six principle themes from the dawn of civilisation, the Nile, writing, state and society, material culture, beliefs, and thoughts.

The royal mummies gallery holds all royal mummies that will be displayed in a unique way of exhibition, accompanied by multi-touch interactive tables and a 3D interactive hologram.

The temporary exhibition gallery will house short-term displays and exhibits, while the Cairo gallery will offer a magnificent view displaying all Cairo landmarks. Visitors can also see the features of old and modern Cairo through panorama technology, multimedia, and sound and light show.

 

The NMEC will host cultural events and festivals on its premises, while site facilities include a big conference room of 23 seats with three translation cabins, a lecture hall of 187 seats, theatre of 486 seats with four translation cabins, cinema of 332 seats, museum education centre with five classes, VIP lounge, print house, big gift shop, lakeside cafes and restaurants, a library, and 42 shops.

Meanwhile, the NMEC is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and disseminating the rich and vibrant heritage of one of the oldest civilisations in the world. The museum, along with its internationally recognised research and conservation centre, have been established with the purpose of raising awareness and understanding of Egyptian history and society via exhibitions, research, cultural events, and publications.

 

The museum is designed as an inclusive and educational institution. It is going to be at the forefront of dialogue, debate, and exchange of ideas about the interconnectivity of history, tradition, culture, and modernity.

To ensure all NMEC visitors enjoy a lively and comfortable tour, special care to visitors with disabilities is provided by offering them the appropriate facilities.

Visitors with disabilities are led by a museum guide, to be able to explore collections via accessible itineraries that allow them to discover and interact with the exhibits and galleries.

Visitors with impaired hearing can take part in guided tours, given in different languages including sign language.

The NMEC offers brilliant activities for not only traditional tourists seeking a historical adventure, but also for children and families looking for memorable learning experiences, triggering imagination via introducing and unfolding  previous eras.

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Rosetta: City of magic https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/26/rosetta-city-magic/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/26/rosetta-city-magic/#respond Thu, 26 Apr 2018 10:00:09 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657850 City of love, war, greatness of victory

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Rosetta, also known as Rashid, is the city of magic and imagination, where the sea meets the river, where the glory of history meets the present in a mesmerising way.

The city bears many secrets and glorious history that surrounds every part of it. In ancient Egypt it was called Bolbitine and was famous for manufacturing war wheels.

This city was able to counter the Fraser expedition alone. This expedition was an operation by the Royal Navy and the British Army during the Anglo-Turkish War in 1807.

But local people believe that this led to the catastrophe of the city later on, since Muhammad Ali Pasha, during his reign, was afraid of resistance from this town, as they were able to defeat the British army, whereby he converted the routes of trade to Alexandria, to undermine the power of the city.

Citadel of Qaitbay

The castle was built by the Mamluk Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaitbay in the 15th century AD and was occupied by the French army during their campaign against Egypt in 1799, a few days after the battle of Abukir and they named it Julian’s Fortress.

In that particular place, the Rosetta stone was discovered, which deciphered the hieroglyphic writing. After the French army took control of the fortress, and during its restoration, the military force led by Lieutenant Bouchard discovered the Rosetta stone inside the citadel. It is likely that those who built the fortress at the time of the Mamluks had brought it from another place (possibly the Temple of Sais) and used it to build the castle.

The stone was a royal decree issued by the priests in memory of Ptolemy the Fifth, and thus the three writings of hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek, in celebration of the coronation of him as a king and his order to exempt temples from taxes.

The Citadel of Qaitbay has two floors, the first for gun holders and the second for arrow holders. They also placed on the doors of the castle containers of boiled oil, in case enemies approached the door, they would pour the oil on them, and then launch burning arrows as the oil helped spread fire over the rest of the attacking army.

Rashid’s architecture is quite different from the architecture of any other city. The houses were built of black and red stone. They determined how the first floor will be built according to the profession of the house owner. Merchants built a place for storing grains on the first floor and army men built a reception room and an office for their guests.

Maysoun House

This house witnessed the love story of the French leader Menou and the Egyptian woman Zubaida, a resident of Rashid. This house is the home of Zubaida, the wife of the French campaign leader in Egypt Menou. Menou loved Egypt and Egyptians and he wanted to marry an Egyptian woman, but he actually fell in love with two women. The first one was the daughter of the mosque’s sheikh, and the second was Zubaida, the daughter of one of the traders in Rashid.

However, when the sheikh knew that Menou wanted to marry his daughter, he made one of his disciples marry her. Therefore, Menou decided to marry Zubaida, after he became a Muslim.

Then Menou left Egypt with Zubaida, and when he and their son died, people believe she returned to that house, but no one knows for sure what happened.

The house consists of four floors. It also has two doors; the small one was for daily use and the large door was for guests.

Since the father and grandfather of Zubaida were merchants, the first floor was a place to store grain. The second floor was a “salamlk”, the men’s floor.

The third and fourth floors were “haramalk”, floors designated for women. In the roof of the house was the so-called “shakhshikh”, which is a hole in the ceiling made of glass to allow the light to enter the two floors of the haramalk.

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Egypt has potential to attract 60m tourists in next 10 years: OBG https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/25/egypt-potential-attract-60m-tourists-next-10-years-obg/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/25/egypt-potential-attract-60m-tourists-next-10-years-obg/#respond Wed, 25 Apr 2018 11:00:23 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657772 In 2017, about 8.3m tourists visited Egypt, says OBG Egypt 2018 report

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Egypt has the potential to be the world leader in tourism attraction, according to Oumnia Boualam country director for Egypt at Oxford Business Group (OBG).

Boualam told Daily News Egypt that the tourism industry’s target should be at least 60 million tourists in the coming 10 years.

She noted that the country can achieve that through tourism promotion abroad, adding that this is what OBG does.

“We promote Egypt’s economy and investments to open more opportunities for people to visit Egypt,” she elaborated. “We seek to have joint efforts with the Egypt Tourism Authority to promote the brand of Egypt.”

She revealed that OBG will have future cooperation and partnerships with the Ministry of Tourism to promote the country’s vacation industry, as OBG has worked with many tourism authorities around the world.

The OBG report regarding Egypt in 2018 said that despite the 44.3% decline in sector revenues in 2016, the industry showed initial signs of recovery in the final quarter of 2016, with revenues increasing 9% year-over-year (y-o-y) to $826m.

The report mentioned that in terms of full-year estimates for 2017, the World Travel and Tourism Council predicted that the sector’s direct contribution to GDP would rise by 2.5%. Total employment in the country for the same year was predicted to fall by 7% from 2016 levels.

The report noted that in the first seven months of 2017, tourism revenues increased by 170% y-o-y to $3.5bn, which exceeded the full-year figure of $3.4bn in 2016.

In 2017, about 8.3 million tourists visited Egypt. Meanwhile, in 2016, 2 million Arab tourists visited Egypt, representing almost 40% of foreign visitors to the country.  Meanwhile, in the first five months of 2017, the number of Chinese visitors to Egypt increased by 94% y-o-y, according to the report.

“As of July 2017, Saudi investments in tourism projects in Egypt totalled $266.6m. Tourism investments account for 11.9%, or $4.6bn, of the total investments into the country. This figure was expected to increase by 8.4% in 2017 and at a rate of 6.4% per year over the next decade,” the report read. “The Egyptian hotel industry appears to have turned a corner in 2017, bolstered by both foreign visitors and domestic tourists. As of mid-2017, there were 53 hotels under construction.”

The report noted that the average stay for tourists in Egypt is around 10 days, similar to most southern European markets, such as Spain, Greece, and Turkey.

However, Egypt could further emphasise two key areas to expand the average stay of tourists. The first is the development of managed serviced apartments to better position the country for the long family holiday segment of tourists. In addition, Egypt should do more work on combining holiday destinations, bridging cultural tourism, and beach tourism.

In December 2016, the Central Bank of Egypt announced the establishment of a EGP 55bn ($329.4m) fund to support tourism investment.

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GEM prepares for high-level international participation at opening ceremony https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/23/gem-prepares-high-level-international-participation-opening-ceremony/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/23/gem-prepares-high-level-international-participation-opening-ceremony/#respond Mon, 23 Apr 2018 06:30:05 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657628 Japanese co-financed project to be complete by December, open end-January

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Tarek Tawfik, general supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), told Daily News Egypt that the museum is preparing for high-level international participation at the GEM’s opening, planned for the end of January 2019.

Tawfik added that he has fully coordinated with many other ministries for the opening, like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, and Ministry of Tourism, as well as the presidency. However, the museum’s construction is planned to be complete by December.

Tawfik noted that ticket prices have not been determined yet, adding, “we have a committee which is studying ticket suggestions, but the prices will be at the global average for foreigners and affordable for Egyptian families and citizens.”

Khaled El-Anany, Egypt’s antiquities minister, said recently that he received governmental support of EGP 3bn in one year, which was spent on many major projects, including the GEM, adding, “the governmental financial support allowed us to resume the work [on the GEM]. The percentage of completion was 20% 24 months ago, but it increased to about 75% now,”


“We have already secured 90% of the needed cost from both the Japanese and Egyptian sides, which is why you can note remarkable developments at the site now,” noted Tawfik.

Meanwhile, he said that international companies are encouraged to apply for the GEM’s management tender, scheduled to be announced by June.

Tawfik added that the GEM is now preparing for the planned tender’s contract terms, saying, “the best technical and financial offer will win the tender. The company will be responsible only for its management, under the control of the GEM’s economic authority, according to the Egyptian law on antiquities.”

In October 2016, Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr received letters of intent for the GEM project from the Japanese Ambassador to Egypt Takehiro Kagawa, estimated by ¥46.409bn (about $450m), to resume the construction of the GEM, according to a ministerial press release.

The GEM is situated only 2 km away from the ancient pyramids of Giza. It is being built on a plot of land of approximately 117 feddans, about 480,000 sqm.

The new museum will pay homage to permanent ancient Egyptian monuments, treasures, and history. It will house over 100,000 artefacts. Of those, about 3,500 belong to the famous King Tutankhamun, according to the GEM’s official website.

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IHG signs two-hotel deal in Egypt with Arabia Hotels https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/22/ihg-signs-two-hotel-deal-egypt-arabia-hotels/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/22/ihg-signs-two-hotel-deal-egypt-arabia-hotels/#respond Sun, 22 Apr 2018 19:26:26 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657620 InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), announced the signing of a deal for two new hotels in Giza on Sunday, Egypt-Holiday Inn Giza Sun Capital and Staybridge Suites Giza Sun Capital, in partnership with Arabia Hotels, a subsidiary of Arabia Holding. The announcement was made at the Arabian Travel Market 2018. The two hotels are scheduled to …

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InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), announced the signing of a deal for two new hotels in Giza on Sunday, Egypt-Holiday Inn Giza Sun Capital and Staybridge Suites Giza Sun Capital, in partnership with Arabia Hotels, a subsidiary of Arabia Holding.

The announcement was made at the Arabian Travel Market 2018. The two hotels are scheduled to open in 2023. The 200-room Holiday Inn Giza Sun Capital and 150-room Staybridge Suites Giza Sun Capital will be the first IHG hotels to open in the area.

“Egypt is an important market for us and we have a strong presence in the country with over 2,000 rooms and robust pipeline across our brands,” Pascal Gauvin, managing director for India, the Middle East, and Africa, IHG commented.

On the other hand, Tarek Shoukry, chairperson and CEO of Arabia Hotels, expressed his excitement to bring IHG brands into his company’s portfolio.

Both hotels will be part of Sun Capital, a mixed-use project that will include the largest commercial area in Egypt, a luxury commercial mall—the first outlet mall in Africa—an Egyptian cultural-themed park, an international university, and an international school.

IHG currently has 84 hotels operating across nine countries in the Middle East region.

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Taba Heights ignites mountains with party lights to revive tourism in turquoise land https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/19/taba-heights-ignites-mountains-party-lights-revive-tourism-turquoise-land/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/19/taba-heights-ignites-mountains-party-lights-revive-tourism-turquoise-land/#respond Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:00:40 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657299 Company seeks to attract tourists from European countries through range of promotional activities, says El Trabishy

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Taba is a small, Egyptian border town with mountains encircling its tourist resorts and its coastal strip near the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, the northernmost resort of Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, and Egypt’s busiest border crossing with neighbouring countries, despite it consisting of little more than a bus depot and a luxury hotel (complete with casino). It is a frequent vacation spot for tourists, from Egypt and abroad, especially those from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and increasingly from the Egyptian market, as a weekend getaway or on their way to other destinations in Egypt.

Orascom Development Egypt (OD), the owner of Taba Heights, is interested in reviving tourism in Sinai—for its unique landscape—and overcoming the low tourist turnout that has recently been witnessed due to the current instability, according to Emad El Trabishy, senior owner representative of Taba Heights Resort.

El Trabishy added that the area of Taba began to recover as of late as a result of the propaganda and marketing parties and concerts that Taba Heights has held recently.

El Trabishy told Daily News Egypt that some events occurred in Egypt after the revolution of 25 January 2011, which affected the tourism sector in Egypt and the occupancy in the whole Sinai region, with occupancy rates sometimes reaching as low as 25% or even lower.

This led the management of Taba Heights—a fully self-sufficient resort town—to launch promotional parties to attract tourists, especially Arabs. The company also seeks to attract tourists from European countries through a number of promotional activities, including exhibitions outside Egypt and holding concerts headlined by international celebrities.

Taba Heights held a series of trips starting in January last year to activate tourism, and Taba Heights continues to hold other celebrations to attract tourists to the region

Taba Heights held a series of trips starting in January last year to activate tourism, and Taba Heights continues to hold other celebrations to attract tourists to the region, which is suffering from a lack of promotional activities by the concerned state agencies, even though it is one of the best tourist locations within Egypt’s borders.

El Trabishy noted that the minimum occupancy during concerts is 90% and sometimes the rooms are fully booked, especially during the last concert which was held at the beginning of the current month, when the occupancy exceeded 100% due to the great demand by guests, especially Arabs who came to attend the concert of Syrian singing icon George Wassouf.

Regarding which Taba Heights hotels are in operation, El Trabishy pointed out that currently, four hotels are open out of six Taba Heights hotels, due to several factors, the most important of which is the decline in tourism.

“The company has inaugurated The Bayview Taba Heights Resort and installed an aqua park in El Wekala Resort. The aqua park was developed by E.MAK Swimming Pool Centre,” he elaborated.

The company is working to develop different categories of hotels within the resort to suit all segments of guests. Orascom is seeking to attract a number of guests, as Taba Heights was dependent on the English, French, Germans, Italians and a number of Russian tourists with high spending ability. Nevertheless, Egyptian tourists began to visit resorts in Taba during the past year.

Continued concerts to attract more tourist

“We are focusing on attracting other tourist nationalities, including Lithuanians. Therefore, Taba Heights holds concerts annually for famous singers of the Arab world, which raised the occupancy of hotels,” said El Trabishy. “The company is seeking to use the shipping line between Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh to revive the Taba area during the coming period.”

He called on EgyptAir to operate a flight at least once a week to Taba International Airport, as its current closure causes great losses for the region. The company uses Jordanian airports and Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport to transport its tourists to Taba.

Mohamed Abdel Wahab, mayor of the city of Taba, said that the city is witnessing a state of tourism boom during the celebrations of Sham Ennessim.

Abdel Wahhab said that the percentage of tourist occupancy in hotels and tourist resorts exceeded 75% as the influx of large numbers of tourists from different nationalities, including Russians and Brits, in addition to Jordanians, Lebanese, and others.

He pointed out that all tourists are keen to enjoy the sea water and the scenic landscape of the city, in addition to visiting the most important touristic sites.

Nancy Ajram

Taba hotel prices less than half of Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada

A tourist of the Arabs of 48 said, “hotel prices in Taba are approximately 50% cheaper than other destinations. Besides, the place is very close to us. Moreover, holding concerts and parties is the main purpose of going on holiday in Taba.”

For his part, El Trabishy commented that the concerned agencies have to set a minimum price for hotel rooms in South Sinai to fight the practice of pricing below market value. Some camps in South Sinai sell at prices higher than many hotels located in the governorate.

Charming place with inner peace

“Taba’s atmosphere is perfect, especially in the summer, and we love to come to attend parties and concerts at Taba Heights resorts, especially since the prices of rooms are suitable for spending the weekend,” a Jordanian tourist told Daily News Egypt.

A European tourist said, “Taba is one of the best resorts in Egypt to enjoy the sun, sea, and colourful fish close up. Moreover, the mountains shine under the sun, and the sky is clear at night, filled with stars.”

“Its borderline between the mountains gives it a special charm,” said an Egyptian tourist visiting Taba for the first time.

Another Egyptian tourist noted that the direct road to Taba from Cairo saves time, and through it, guests can take only six hours from the capital, which is considered closer than Sharm El-Sheikh.

“I feel a new feeling different than other places in Sinai. However, we need more entertainment areas for children to have more fun,” the tourist added.

George Wassouf

Famous Arab singers express their pleasure to be in Taba

The Taba Heights Spring Nights 2018 has proven its success and its ability to attract the top stars of the Arab world after having generated confidence in all the equipment and supplies provided by Star System Company for sound and lighting equipment, which is owned by Hany Hassan, who oversees all the preparations for the stage and equipment. Last year, Sherine Abdel Wahab, Wael Jassar, Fares Karam, Maeen Sharif, and other singers had performed concerts in Taba Heights. George Wassouf, Najwa Karam, and Melhem Zein have performed concerts this year.

After an absence for years, Wassouf returned to perform a concert in Taba in the attendance of thousands of his fans.

Wassouf told Daily News Egypt, “I adore Egypt and Egyptians and I can feel their love for me. I love their shouts when they say ‘Abou Wadea ya amohom,’” Wassouf said. “I sang in Egypt, the country of dignity, a country where I always cherish singing. I hope to visit Taba again and sing in it because I enjoyed singing with those masses who came from different Arab countries and cities and made me happy.”

He further noted that Taba is an Egyptian and Arab land and has a special place in his heart and is always happy singing in Egypt.

Taba: A place of great history

Archaeologist Abdel Rahim Rayhan, the general manager of research, archaeological studies, and scientific publishing in the Sinai Peninsula, explained that all tourism components will be highlighted in Taba, including archaeological tourism to visit the citadel of Saladin, on Pharaoh’s Island, as it is an important historical and cultural value established by the leader Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi in AH567 (AD1171) to repel Crusader raids and protect the Egyptian pilgrimage route through the Sinai Peninsula, and had a great role in protecting Sinai from the Crusader invasion when it was besieged by Renaud of Châtillons.

Taba enjoys safari tourism and mountain climbing, including the picturesque Tobya Valley and mountains surrounding Pharaoh’s Island, highlighting the tourist attractions of Taba. In addition, recreational and environmental tourism is available to enjoy a cruise around Pharaoh’s Island, Fjord Bay, which is 10 km away from Taba. A famous Egyptian film was also shot in that region, as is the world-renowned diving resort of Taba Heights. The Taba Port can also be opened to tourism to see the “91 mark” that tells the story of Taba’s return to Egyptian sovereignty.

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Sector strategy targets 16.6m tourists by 2020 https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/18/sector-strategy-targets-16-6m-tourists-2020/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/18/sector-strategy-targets-16-6m-tourists-2020/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 06:00:15 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=657227 Makers of tourism vision lay out plan at DNE-led seminar

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The former chairperson of the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF), Elhamy El-Zayyat, and member of the board of directors of the Egyptian Chamber Hotel , Haitham Nassar, laid out a strategy to develop the tourism sector within the next two years, in cooperation with Abla Abdullatif, chairperson of the Egyptian Centre for Economic Studies (ECES).

That vision, presented at a seminar led by Daily News Egypt, aims to attract 16.6 million tourists to Egypt through 2020, through improving the legislative structure of the sector and qualifying its elements, including in terms of labour, hotel rooms, and tourist transport fleets.

MP Amr Sedky, member of the economic committee of parliament, and Adel Rady, chairperson of the Tourism Investors Association in Marsa Alam, in addition to the former chairperson of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Hassan Aziz, also took part in the seminar.

What led you to developing the strategy at the present time?

El-Zayyat: The tourism sector went through many crises in the 1990s, such as the Deir Al-Bahari incident. The recent crises the sector has been going through has been continuous.

Before 2010, there were strong ministers able to deal with various crises, such as Fouad Sultan, then Mamdouh Al-Beltagy.

Terrorism would hit hard, but the sector would then soon recover within a few months. The recent crises, however, took a long time to recover from because of the negligence of the officials in charge of the tourism sector. Thus, at the time, we should have moved to create this strategy and set it, which we are discussing now.

I would like to point out that the chairperson of the ECES has shown a lot of support to develop this strategy.

This cooperation between the ECES and the private sector is very good. However, we faced many difficulties in finding accurate figures on the tourism sector.

We worked for six months in order to develop this strategy, and it is a short-term one because the sector is one that goes through many changes.

In light of the absence of figures, some statistics were inaccurate, especially because each minister has tried to present statistics that satisfy the political leadership.

To overcome this issue, we resorted to the figures issued by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) instead of the main soruce, which is the Ministry of Tourism.

Abla Abdullatif

Have you sensed a recovery in the sector’s indicators over the past period?

Abdullatif: We have started the recovery phase. The global tourism industry changes rapidly, and other competing companies take swift steps, unlike us.

We must admit, however, that the tourism sector is quickly impacted by political events, which may be out of our control, such as the events taking place in the Middle East region.

We can fix the situation of the sector as much as we can with the aim of obtaining our share of international tourism, which exceeded 1.2 billion people last year.

This strategy is a new road map for the sector, and it was the result of a so-called competitiveness observatory.

The tourism sector is the first service activity to see a strategy made specifically for it, as the idea of an observatory relies on evaluating our situation compared to our competitors and the international market of tourism in general.

This observatory compared Egypt with three groups of countries that represent strong tourism destinations, including Spain, France, and Italy. The second group is Turkey and Greece, and the third is comprised of Tunisia, Morocco, and Jordan.

The aspects of comparison included price of services, infrastructure, and the natural resources of each destination.

The road map seeks to answer three questions: where are we? Where do we want to be? How do we achieve our goals?

The strategy aims to make Egypt a high-quality tourism destination by 2020. We could not develop a vision that applies for a longer period of time because global tourism changes very fast.

We have a goal for each market based on the size of its population and kind of activity. We divided activities into four different groups based on tourist spending .

Spending rates for the various tourism patterns start from less than $25 to up to $250 per night.

When will you discuss this strategy with the Ministry of Tourism?

Abdullatif: We made a deal with the Tourism Ministry to have a work programme for this strategy over the upcoming period.

This road map aims to create all kinds of reforms in the sector, whether they are institutional, legislative, or labour training.

lhamy El-Zayyat

Was this road map connected to the infrastructure of the sector?

Abdullatif: Yes, the strategy has indeed been linked to infrastructure, such as airports and others, and we seek to benefit from the tourism expertise in Egypt as the sector recovers.

El-Zayyat: I would like to point out that the tourism sector has lost about two-thirds of its trained labour over the past seven years.

Abdullatif: The various tourist products in Egypt are like the process of producing cotton t-shirts; they are produced in good quality but the whole world turns to polyester.

How do you see the marketing and promotion of the tourism sector in the past period?

El-Zayyat: Over the past year, there was no marketing in the actual sense, as the concept is a science, and all the Tourism Promotion Authority has done is promotion. To market, however, it requires studies and research of the market and the target segments addressed by these Egyptian tourism products. We need specifies branding for Egypt, which is a major thing, as promotion is the last step in marketing.

I get asked: will the Chinese market replace the Russian market in terms of the annual number of inbound tourism? And my answer is a definite no. It is difficult to do this.

Chinese tourists prefer the areas closest to them, especially because a large number of them looks to gambl or shop in Western European countries or the United States. Macao, for example, receives about 35 million Chinese tourists annually.

Is coordination between executive authorities and the private sector lacking? Is this what the strategy seeks to implement?

Nassar: It is necessary to put the efforts in the sector into a uniform framework in a deliberate manner, and at the end, we are talking about a country and presenting it to the world. If it was presented badly by one person, this will certainly hurt the reputation of everyone else and affect the existing products.

The tourism industry is a commodity, in which many factors are involved, so it is necessary to create harmony among them.

The Egyptian Tourism Federation was the intermediary between all parties, including companies and hotels. It delivered our messages to the ministry to come up with an integrated plan to market Egyptian tourism.

Haitham Nassar

How does the road map deal with the overlapping of specialties in terms of portfolio management?

Abdullatif: One of the negatives we are currently facing is the management of Cairo International Airport, as it is subject to more than one responsible authority, which destroys all aggregated efforts. Coordination and organisation are important policies.

The state is obliged to work within the framework of these policies in a way that does not cause issues during implementation.

Nassar: From 1968 until 2010, crises that arose were over quickly and did not take over a year and a half to solve, as long as ministries worked together to get out of them swiftly.

Abdullatif: There is no comparison between the current events and the past crises. We need to move fast to compensate for the losses of the past seven years.

Nassar: Looking at figures and statistics from 2008 until 2010, we will then see the importance of the sector and note that the current figures are only signs to guide us to overcoming the issues we face and the next steps to take.

How do you view the situation of labour training?

Nassar: One of the challenges we are facing is reaching the past numbers of workers in the sector, over 85% of whom have abandonded it, leaving no substitutes behind.

This requires some changes in terms of the way the tourism sector is seen and its importance to the national economy. This will help the flow of tourism to Egypt.

We had about 1.8 million workers directly trained for the sector, and unfortunately, during the past period, the public money to train them was wasted as a result of shutting down training facilities that contained equipment worth millions of pounds, and many workers lost their jobs as a result of not getting consistently paid.

El-Zayyat: The tourism sector received €15m to train its workers when Fayza Aboul Naga assumed the position of minister of investment. Since then, we started receiving funding from several ministries to train the workers of the sector.

Abdullatif: Developing training programmes for workers in the sector must occur within a timeframe, with the proper selection of trainers. Funding must not occur without looking at a mechanism to implement the training programmes.

The existing resources are not properly utilised. The road map includes maximising the available resources and making use of the wasted opportunities, such as, for example, giving attention to conference or festival tourism. 

Aziz: The difference between us and any advanced country in terms of tourism, such as Dubai, is that the state takes care of legislating the laws and decisions according to which the private sector works.

The sector has many complex laws that force officials to back out in fear of crises.

Adel Rady
Adel Rady

Do you think that the state’s interference in the activity is harmful?

Aziz: If the state interferes in the details of operations, we will not succeed, because the state is not really a good manager. If legislation were made properly, we could attract over 20 million tourists annually. We must offer incentives in the sector.

We also need legislation for the functioning of airports and for the infrastructure of tourism and aviation.

When the incident of the Russian plane occurred, we could not transport tourists because there was no strong Egyptian aviation arm, hence, tourists had to travel through Ukrainian airlines.

There must be legislation to allow private sector companies to work in the management of Egyptian airports.

El-Zayyat: We have seven different entities operating Cairo International Airport.

Aziz: All parties could unite to run the airport under one umbrella.

Does the road map include new tourist patterns that we should pay more attention to?

El-Zayyat: Conference tourism has not been properly utilised, unfortunately. Previously, we arranged a conference for podiatry illnesses and invited 6,000 doctors and their wives, making the total number of arrivals 9,000.

Cape Town recorded 100% occupation through organising medical conferences, even though it is classified as one of the most unsafe cities in the world.

Abdullatif: Managing the system is more important than laws, and we have many laws that have not been enforced.

Amr Sedky: The tourism industry has become open and any tourism investor is likely to deal with parties other than the Ministry of Tourism, which would kill any new investments, but changes are happening with the new laws recently issued by parliament.

When we think of the unified tourism law, there were different visions of it. The aim, however, was to create an outlet for each ministry through which it can deal with investors in accordance with its own laws. This led to investors dealing with laws they did not even know about.

At that time, I talked to Mohamed Badr, the governor of Luxor who was, at the time, the assistant minister of tourism. We started aggregating all the laws and decisions in order to consider unifying them.

Workers in the field of tourism were called ambassadors thanks to their hospitality with foreigners. Egyptian hospitality was a landmark. The clear decline in the sector of tourism, however, is the result of the presence of outsiders who do not have a professional and conscientious background.

Nowadays, anyone with a sum of money can start up a tourism company without adhering to the standards of practicing this profession.

I believe that training will be able to fix these issues. In fact, when we studied the work mechanisms of the sector, we realised that some standards are inherited from a generation to another, which can be utilised well when developing training courses.

For example, we discovered through a study that most workers in food and catering sector are from the governorate of Sharqeya, hence, we moved the training programme in this field to Sharqeya.

Amr Sedky

Aviation is one of the most important portfolios in the sector; how can it serve Egyptian tourism?

Sedky: If we look at the experience of the UAE, we will see how Dubai International Airport improved the city’s tourism.

An official from the Emirates told me about how aviation helped the tourism sector in his country, and said that if aviation ever faced losses, the state will support it. New patterns such as transit tourism are now introduced and are becoming more beneficial.

Dubai created high-quality products, which it started marketing and promoting . In Egypt, our main issue is the administration.

Dubai’s administration launched a shopping festival in March and created demand for it, then they started launching conference tourism, making tourism active throughout the year.

The UAE is good at unified planning, which is an aspect we lack. A clear example on this would be the absence of planning for the creation of e-visas. We have been discussing this for many years, but the Ministry of Tourism has a vision, while the Ministry of Interior has another vision, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a completely different vision.

Rady: Is aviation part of the road map?

Abdullatif: This portfolio requires a specific strategy. However, I would like to point out that you cannot isolate the sector of tourism from the sectors of aviation and antiquities.

Rady: What about the strategy’s vision for tourism investment?

Nassar: There are over 225,000 rooms in Egypt within the tourism sector. When we had a smaller number of rooms, we were still able to attract 14 million tourists annually, and that was in 2010. We demanded from the state to stop providing licenses for new hotels in order to maintain demand and prices.

We must look at the available hotel rooms we have now, and their situation seven years after the recession they witnessed.

We have five-star hotels marketed abroad as three-star hotels, and we have the tools to change this situation now, so we must start.

Will we be seeing a unified tourism law during the upcoming period?

Sedky: There has been a desire to issue a unified tourism law and I think this may require two legislative sessions because this is an important and complex law.

Throughout the past legislative sessions, parliament was burdened with many urgent bills to be passed related to the economic reform programme.

Recently, I submitted a draft law on therapeutic tourism. There are many bills to be approved, such as the investment law, and the one-person companies law.

Rady: There is a state of chaos regarding the laws governing the sector. They must be solved to push the sector forward. Egypt has a low rank in terms of the countries that enforce laws, which is very questionable.

Nassar: Neighbouring countries have laid out policies and are implementing successive and rapid programmes in order to develop their tourism products.

Regarding marketing, and with new tenders launched, did the company J Walter Thompson fail to manage the campaign?

Nassar: As a state sector and a state, we are responsible for the failure of the marketing campaign, as visions overlapped, and programmes were not developed based on the recent changes that occurred at the end of 2015.

The company’s activity was halted for a year, and its marketing campaigns started to be active only recently.

Sedky: The company had to make a modification to its marketing work strategies after the incident of the Russian plane at the end of October 2015.

Nassar: At that time, we demanded the Ministry of Tourism to maintain the allocated funding. However, the marketing work was halted.

El-Zayyat: The former minister led a chaotic system with his programme. He planned to implement six programmes in six months, but instead, he spent his term fighting against investors.

He criticised the charter flight system and wanted to pay the late dues of airline companies in Egyptian pounds, including the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports. His attempt was not accepted, and the company demanded its dues in dollars.

I believe that the new minister has a lot to work on. She assumed her position shortly before the ITB Berlin fair and managed to participate in it.

Sedky: I do not support the idea of ministers or governors taking part in foreign affairs, as we have an authority to promote tourism and that is its job. Ministers should remain in their offices to solve the issues of the sector instead of constantly traveling unless it is necessary, which is what Mamdouh El-Beltagy tried to make happen. The sector is full of burdens.

How do you see the crisis of failing hotels?

El-Zayyat: We have made great efforts in this regard over the past years. The Papyrus fund was established to help failing companies and hotels. Hisham Zazou, the former minister of tourism, wanted to allocate EGP 50m for the issue of troubled companies, but the minister of tourism who succeeded him stopped the decision. Luckily, the new minister of tourism announced recently that the fund will be reactivated.

Why did the former minister halt the tourism investment fund?

El-Zayyat: He wanted 20% of the fund’s money to be allocated for new troubled projects, which was declined. No money was injected and the whole project was halted.

We received many Chinese offers to finance the fund, and there was also financial surplus from Arabian Gulf countries allocated for the same purpose, but now the circumstances are different.

We must admit that the sector has many issues that need to be addressed, and President Al-Sisi pays great attention to this issue at the present time.

We have the sun, sand, and air. Three main elements for tourism. We also have our antiquities.

It is worth noting that there are 280 floating hotels on the riverway that have been idle for seven years.

How does the road map see the issue of quality and efficiency of services in the sector?

Nassar: Like I said earlier, we have demanded from the ministry to suspend the licensing of new hotels. To increase the efficiency of services, these hotels must be subject to specific standards.

I believe that the past period is responsible for the declined quality, as investors without vision entered the sector with the aim of making quick profits.

There is also another serious problem, which is that investors wanted to include all tourist activities in their businesses, which would result in a breakdown of the sector; something that we can already see right now.

Generally, without enforcing new norms, we will see cases of food poisoning and harassment.

Are we ready to face the expected tourism flows as recovery takes place?

Nassar: If we do not follow the strategy, we will end up at a dead-end. The sector is full of expertise to be utilised to get out of this crisis, especially with the resumption of flights between Egypt and Russia. However, in my opinion, this has a very limited impact on the tourism sector.

Sedky: I do not expect to see Russian tourists coming back to Egypt in light of the matches of the World Cup this summer.

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Secrets of Amr ibn al-Aas Mosque, fourth in Islamic world https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/12/secrets-amr-ibn-al-aas-mosque-fourth-islamic-world/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/12/secrets-amr-ibn-al-aas-mosque-fourth-islamic-world/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 12:00:20 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656767 In the heart of Old Cairo, near the Al-Fakhareen district and where Egypt’s most authentic handicrafts are showcased to people in Souk Al-Fustat, lies one of the biggest mosques in Egypt and the one with the most important history to tell. Built in AH21 (AD642), the old mosque, or Amr ibn al-Aas Mosque, was the …

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In the heart of Old Cairo, near the Al-Fakhareen district and where Egypt’s most authentic handicrafts are showcased to people in Souk Al-Fustat, lies one of the biggest mosques in Egypt and the one with the most important history to tell.

Built in AH21 (AD642), the old mosque, or Amr ibn al-Aas Mosque, was the first mosque in Egypt and Africa; it was also the fourth biggest mosque in the Islamic world.

The district the mosque was built in was the country’s religious capital since ancient Egypt. Back then, it was called “kheer’aha”, which means the land of fights. This place is where the ancient Egyptians used to idolise Ra, or Re, the ancient Egyptian sun god.

This place is one of the places where the Holy Family was hiding, and where Amr ibn al-Aas set up his tent to beleaguer the fort of the Romans in order to conquer Egypt.

The mosque has three legends. The first was about the well in the middle of it; people thought that the well was enchanted and if a woman took water from that well, she would get married, and if she already was, she would get pregnant.

The second legend is about the mosque’s pillars. There are two pillars in the mosque. It is said that if you doubt someone is telling the truth, all one would had to do was to make him/her try to pass between the two pillars. If they could pass between the columns, they were honest. If he/she could not, they were deemed a liar.

The last legend is about the Mihrab of Nafisa, or the place where one of the Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughters used to constantly pray in. Hence, it is believed that this place is blessed; that is why people pray in the same spot inside the mosque, with the belief that if they wipe their hands with the sign “amen” in that place, they could receive blessings and their prayers will be answered.

The design of the mosque was inspired by Coptic and Jewish art. As for the mosque’s minaret, its style was taken from the Jewish style. The minaret is a tall, slender tower on a mosque, from which Muslims are called to prayer.

The pulpit was inspired by Coptic art. It was a gift from Al-Muqawqis to Amr ibn al-Aas, Al-Muqawqis was mentioned in Islamic history as a ruler of Egypt before and during the Arab Islamic conquest of the country.

The pulpit caused dispute between Amr ibn al-Aas and Omar ibn al-Khattab, the caliph at the time. Some people tried to stir up trouble, so they complained to Omar ibn al-Khattab that the ruler of Egypt, Amr ibn al-Aas, prays on the heads of worshippers. Therefore, to stop this from occurring, Omar ibn al-Khattab ordered to get rid of that pulpit. To please Omar ibn al-Khattab, Amr ibn al-Aas removed the pulpit until the caliph’s death, after which it was returned to the mosque.

Amr ibn al-Aas Mosque was the first university, even before Al-Azhar. In the mosque, they held science sessions. There was a seat of judges to judge among the people on conflicting issues.

Despite its historical importance over the years, the mosque suffered from several acts of sabotage.

The first was by a vizier named Shawar who was the last de facto ruler of the Fatimid state. The vizier learned that one of the crusades was aiming to enter Egypt, so he burned Cairo so that the crusaders could not enter it. The fire lasted for 45 days and the mosque was severely damaged by that fire.

Then came the French campaign, which took all the wood antiques from the mosque and burned it to warm the army.

Finally, in the era of the British occupation, they were using the mosque as a horse stable, despite the devastation the mosque suffered from. Nevertheless, it kept its basic form, with only simple restorations.

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The Cave of St Simon and story of transferring Moqattam Mountain https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/05/cave-st-simon-story-transferring-moqattam-mountain/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/05/cave-st-simon-story-transferring-moqattam-mountain/#respond Thu, 05 Apr 2018 12:00:56 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656278 The monastery of Samaan Al-Kharraz (Simon the Tanner) is located at the top of the Moqattam Mountain, with six churches carved into the rock of the mountain. Unfortunately, Moqattam Mountain currently serves as a lower-class residential area, not as a tourist site, and only few people know that this area has such a mesmerising site. …

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The monastery of Samaan Al-Kharraz (Simon the Tanner) is located at the top of the Moqattam Mountain, with six churches carved into the rock of the mountain.

Unfortunately, Moqattam Mountain currently serves as a lower-class residential area, not as a tourist site, and only few people know that this area has such a mesmerising site. The monastery’s location is also one of the places where the Holy Family hid during their Biblical journey to Egypt.

In the reign of Al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah, the fourth ruler of the Fatimid caliphate in Egypt, he had a minister named Ya’qub ibn Killis, who was Jewish. He informed Al-Mu’izz that the Christian Gospel says, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Al-Mu’izz ordered Coptic Pope Abraham of Alexandria, who is now venerated as a saint by the Coptic Orthodox Church, to move Moqattam Mountain. The saint asked Al-Mu’izz to give him some time. Abraham continuously fasted for three days until he fainted and saw the Virgin Mary in a dream, who told him about a man would help him move the mountain.

That man was Simon the Tanner. He had two jobs: he worked as a shoe repairman and he also distributed water to poor people. He helped to move the mountain from Ramses area. After the transfer of Moqattam, Saint Samaan disappeared into one of the caves of the mountain. Later, a monastery was built in the same place.

The monastery of Samaan Al-Kharraz (Simon the Tanner) is located at the top of the Moqattam Mountain, with six churches carved into the rock of the mountain.
(Photo handout to DNE)

Miracle or myth?

Whether the story is grounded in reality is a controversial issue; there are people who believe it is a miracle and others who think it is a myth, and both groups present some evidence.

People who believe that it was a miracle say mould, snails, and snail trails found in the limestone and clay stones of Moqattam Mountain were discovered.

This, they say, proves that the Nile River had been flowing for thousands of years near the edge of Moqattam, and suddenly, the mountain moved far away from the Nile.

People who believe that it is a myth say the story is not mentioned in many history books. The evidence of this is that the book History of the Coptic Orthodox Church, one of the most famous books of the Coptic Church, did not mention that news, nor did the European historians mention it in their books.

So far, there is no clear conclusion to which side is right.

The most beautiful characteristic of the church is the stories carved into the mountain rocks.

One story is told through a set of carvings on the walls of the mountain. The sculptures tell the story of the birth of Jesus and how the grazers followed his path to where he was born through the heavy instant growth of plants in the area. Following them led the grazers to the exact birth place of Jesus. 

Then, the next carvings tell the story of the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection about Lazarus, Jesus’ disciple who was dead and buried for four days. Jesus went to his grave and raised him back from death, according to the Gospel.

Also carved is the story of Samson, who was one of the last judges who ruled Israel and, according to tradition, had incredible physical strength.
(Photo Handout to DNE)

Another story told through the carvings is the aforementioned story of the transfer of Moqattam and how the miracle took place while people were sincerely praying all day long until sunset, until—as they believe—the miracle happened.

There is also a sculpture with statues of Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the daughter of one of Jesus’ disciples.

Moreover, there is a sculpted part that tells the story of Joseph and Zuleikha, Potiphar’s wife. Potiphar is said to have been the captain of the palace guard in Egypt.

Also carved is the story of Samson, who was one of the last judges who ruled Israel and, according to tradition, had incredible physical strength. His people wanted to find out the secret of Samson’s power, so they used his lover, a woman named Delilah, to seduce him and reveal the secret of his strength, which they found out to be his hair.

The last story that is carved is the story of Saint Simon the Tanner (Samaan Al-Kharraz), who worked as a shoe repairman. One day, when he looked at the legs of a beautiful woman whom he was repairing a shoe for, he poked his eye out with his needle to punish himself for his lust.

There are frequent tours to the monastery as it is hard to reach for regular people. Tours only typically cost about EGP 40.

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Riyadh, Kuwait hotels secure touristic hotspot status; 20%, 8% forecasted growth respectively: Colliers https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/03/riyadh-kuwait-hotels-secure-touristic-hotspot-status-20-8-forecasted-growth-respectively-colliers/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/03/riyadh-kuwait-hotels-secure-touristic-hotspot-status-20-8-forecasted-growth-respectively-colliers/#respond Tue, 03 Apr 2018 18:31:14 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=656092 Hotels in Riyadh and Kuwait are expected to grow and transform their status to become touristic hotspots with forecasted growths of 20% and 8% respectively in revenue per available room (RevPAR), according to Colliers International’s The MENA Hotel Forecast March 2018 report. The forecasted growth in Riyadh’s case is a result of strong corporate and …

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Hotels in Riyadh and Kuwait are expected to grow and transform their status to become touristic hotspots with forecasted growths of 20% and 8% respectively in revenue per available room (RevPAR), according to Colliers International’s The MENA Hotel Forecast March 2018 report.

The forecasted growth in Riyadh’s case is a result of strong corporate and meetings, incentives, conferencing, and exhibitions (MICE) activity. Such effects will lead to better average daily rates (ADR) as well as improved occupancy, the report indicates.

In regard to Kuwait, strong MICE activity is also expected, which will result in increased occupancy, accompanied by no major increase in supply. Consequently, growth in RevPAR is also expected there.

Moreover, the report indicates that Cairo’s hotels are forecasted to witness 20% growth in RevPAR in the same period, while Alexandria’s hotels are expected to witness a moderate increase of around 13% in RevPAR.

According to the report, Jordan’s Aqaba maintained its confident and steady performance due to the return of the beach season, and an increase in local and international demand in the Easter season, with -1% expected RevPAR growth.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah will also maintain its steady performance, backed by an increase in leisure and pilgrim demand, as a result of Umrah and school holidays, with 0% expected RevPAR growth.

On the other hand, the UAE’s Fujairah and Bahrain’s Manama continue to feel the negative consequences of declines in leisure demand and limited corporate and MICE demand. Fujairah and Manama are expected to respectively witness 13% and 10% decline in RevPAR from March 2018 to May 2018.

Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada hotels continued to grow from their low performance in the first quarter of 2017. However, their growth rate declined in comparison to Colliers’ January report. Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada’s forecasted RevPAR growth registered at 63% and 17% respectively, compared to 84% and 72% in the prior report.

Moreover, the report indicates that Cairo’s hotels are forecasted to witness a limited growth of 10% in RevPAR in the same period, while Alexandria’s hotels are expected to witness a moderate increase of around 12% in RevPAR.

Moreover, the UAE’s Sharjah, the city of Abu Dhabi, and its beach are forecasted to witness a growth in RevPAR of 6%, 6%, and 7% respectively during the same period.

The Colliers International Hospitality division is a global network of specialist consultants in the hotel and resorts sector.

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Egypt’s tourism expected to recover, backed by growth in tourist arrivals: OBG https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/03/egypts-tourism-expected-recover-backed-growth-tourist-arrivals-obg/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/04/03/egypts-tourism-expected-recover-backed-growth-tourist-arrivals-obg/#respond Tue, 03 Apr 2018 13:26:28 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655988 Improvements in security, currency flotation were main drivers behind rebound

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The Egyptian tourism sector is poised to experience a rebound, despite challenges, leading to a more positive outlook in the near to medium terms, according to Oxford Business Group (OBG)’s Egypt economic update issued on Monday.

OBG associated the recovery to the recent uptick in foreign arrivals, as well as the expected boost from the resumption of direct flights to and from Russia, one of Egypt’s major sources of international visitors.

Egypt Air and the Russian Aeroflot announced, in March, that flights between Moscow and Cairo would recommence on 12 and 11 April respectively. The resumption will end the two and a half years of flight suspensions between the two countries following the downing of a Russian Metrojet plane over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015. 

Egypt witnessed a significant drop in tourist arrivals following the downing of the Russian plane, already in decline after the 2011 revolution. Consequently, the number of tourist arrivals dropped from 14.7 million people in 2010 to 5.4 million by 2016, with annual revenue falling from $12.5bn to $3.8bn. 

One of the main drivers behind the decline in tourist arrivals, was the drop in Russian tourists, whose share of foreign arrivals fell from 68% in 2015 to 13% by mid-2016. 

According to the OBG report, the positive outlook for Egypt’s tourism sector is backed by the increase in visitors by 54% in 2017 to 8.3 million, while tourism receipts more than doubled to $7.6bn. Group travel jumped 66.5%, indicating resurgent interest from package tour operators, and the January-February period saw a 39% year-over-year increase in the number of tourists from the UK—another traditional source of arrivals. 

OBG believes that the Egyptian authorities’ efforts to improve the domestic security situation was one of the drivers behind the stronger arrival numbers, in addition to the currency flotation, as the value of the Egyptian pound has halved, making Egypt a more affordable travel destination.

Furthermore, the positive trend is expected to continue into 2018, according to Hamed El-Chiaty, chairperson of local travel company Travco, who forecasts 2018 arrivals will increase by a further 40-50% to reach roughly 12 million.  He pegged this to the rise in visitors from traditional partners such as the UK and Ukraine, along with new markets in Eastern Europe.

Additionally, OBG’s report indicates that the diversification of Egypt’s source markets aims to reestablish the sector as one of the main drivers of the economy and end its reliance on one nation.

To this end, a three-month tourism promotional strategy has been prepared to air on the National Geographic channel in April. The campaign will focus on the UK, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and countries throughout the Middle East, and will consist of videos featuring information about Egypt’s tourism industry and holiday attractions. 

Moreover, the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) is undertaking a campaign, running from February to April, to promote the country in the Spanish market. It includes the promotion of specific attractions, such as hosting Christian pilgrims at the Egyptian Orthodox Church.

The Ministry of Tourism will issue a tender for August’s tourism promotion, when its existing contract with US-based consultancy J Walter Thompson expiries. The move aims to reflect developments in the global tourism market and Egypt’s overall economic strategy, according to Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat.

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Boeing delivers first 787-10 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/27/boeing-delivers-first-787-10-dreamliner-singapore-airlines/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/27/boeing-delivers-first-787-10-dreamliner-singapore-airlines/#respond Tue, 27 Mar 2018 08:30:46 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655111 Airplane to enter service in May with flights to Japan, Australia

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Boeing and Singapore Airlines celebrated the delivery of the first 787-10 airplane, the newest and largest member of the Dreamliner family that will set a new global standard for fuel efficiency, said a press statement from Boeing on Monday.

The statement added that Singapore Airlines is the first to operate all three Dreamliner models because it already flies the 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliners, noting that the Singaporean group has an additional 68 Boeing wide-body jets on order, including 48 more 787-10s and 20 of the new 777-9 aeroplane.

Singapore Airlines plans to put its 787-10 into commercial service in May, with flights from Singapore to Osaka, Japan and Perth, Australia, noted the statement.

The 787-10 aeroplane is designed with strong, lightweight composites, advanced systems, and comfortable cabin features, added the statement, noting that the aeroplane has 330 seats in a standard two-class configuration.

The 787-10 aeroplane provides airlines with the lowest operating cost per seat compared to any other wide-body airplane.

CEO of Singapore Airlines Goh Choon Phong said, “it is an honour for us to be the world’s first airline” to receive this aircraft, adding, “it is a magnificent piece of engineering and it will be an important element in our overall growth strategy, enabling us to expand our network and strengthen our operations.”

“The 787-10 underscores Singapore Airlines’ longstanding commitment to operate a modern fleet, and marks the start of a new chapter in our shared story with Boeing,” added Goh.

“This is a big day for all of us at Boeing and for our global supplier partners. We are thrilled to deliver the first 787-10 Dreamliner to Singapore Airlines, one of the world’s leading carriers,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin McAllister.

The 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft sets a new benchmark for fuel efficiency and operating costs with up to 25% more efficient fuel consumption per seat and lower emissions than the 787-9 aircraft, said the statement.

The statement added that the 787 Dreamliner group is an all-new, super-efficient family of commercial airplanes that can fly long distances while offering 20-25% better fuel efficiency per seat and lower emissions than other airplanes.

Since 2011, more than 640 Dreamliners have entered service, flying more than 230 million people on more than 680 routes around the world, saving an estimated 10.4m tonnes of fuel, said the statement.

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New Tutankhamun exhibition opens in Los Angeles  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/27/new-tutankhamun-exhibition-opens-los-angeles/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/27/new-tutankhamun-exhibition-opens-los-angeles/#respond Tue, 27 Mar 2018 08:00:37 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=655066 Exhibit is 4th within new policy to showcase Egyptian artefacts in foreign countries 

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Completing the chain of inaugurating exhibitions showcasing Egyptian relics, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Anany launched on Sunday The King Tut Exhibition in Los Angeles, California, according to a press release on the Ministry of Antiquities’ official Facebook page.

The opening was attended by Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass, alongside Egyptian Consul General in California Lamia Mekhemar and several other public figures and officials.

The exhibition showcases 166 objects belonging to Tutankhamun, which were transferred from the The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, including alabaster pots, wooden boxes, and statues of the pharaoh.

El-Anany expressed his happiness with the exhibition, explaining that it is part of a new policy of organising exhibitions in foreign countries.

In his speech, El-Anany asserted that there is a love story between the young pharaoh and the American nation, and especially the people of Los Angeles, explaining that this is not the first time the ancient king’s belongings visit the US.

“The first visit for Tutankhamun’s gems outside Egypt was in 1961, to the United States, where it travelled the different states for four years,” El-Anany said, highlighting that this is the fourth exhibit in California after three previous visits in 1962, 1978, and 2005.

“Today, the king comes to the city of angels carrying a message of peace from the Egyptian nation to Americans, representing the beauty and fascinations of the ancient Egyptian civilisation and how it was built with love, peace, knowledge, art, faith, and excitement,” he added in his speech.

According to the museum, all of the 3,500 tickets for the first day of the exhibition were sold out, which led the museum to extend its opening for three additional hours after the official working hours, as regulations forbid hosting more than 100 persons inside the museum at a time.

The first exhibition showcasing Egyptian artefacts in a foreign country, as part of the new policy, kicked off in Toronto, Canada this month, displaying the heritage and monuments of the Egyptian Fatimid era, and another displaying the artefacts of the cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, which were discovered under water after being lost for 1,000 years before they were found accidentally, while a third exhibition will soon be inaugurated for jewellery from ancient Egyptian eras.

El-Anany invited people to see the other Tutankhamun relics, around 5,000 of them, on show at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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Egypt to inaugurate Grand Egyptian Museum in H2 2018  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/26/egypt-inaugurate-grand-egyptian-museum-h2-2018/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/26/egypt-inaugurate-grand-egyptian-museum-h2-2018/#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2018 08:00:58 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654890 We received new $450m loan from Japan to complete museum, Tawfik says

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On the opposite side of the Giza pyramid complex, the Grand Egyptian Museum is being built, planned to be the world’s largest museum, aiming to attract 5 million visitors annually in its first phase and 10 million in the second phase.

The museum includes commercial and recreational services, restoration centres, and a garden where there will be special species of trees displayed that used to be planted in ancient Egypt. The project’s cost is estimated at $1bn, of which Japan offered $300m as a soft loan. The museum is expected to feature more than 100,000 artefacts from the Pharaonic, Greek, and Roman eras, which will greatly boost the tourism sector in Egypt. The museum is due to be partly opened in the second half of this year.

Director General of the Grand Egyptian Museum Tarek Tawfik spoke to Daily News Egypt on the preparations for the museum’s opening and the challenges and obstacles that faced its leadership in the construction phase.

What has been accomplished so far in the Grand Egyptian Museum?
We have completed the concrete and metal works, while the interior and exterior finishing, main squares, and roads leading to the museum will be completed within a few weeks. The new Cairo West Airport will be near the Grand Egyptian Museum and this will contribute to more tourist inflow to Giza.

Director General of the Grand Egyptian Museum Tarek Tawfik spoke to Daily News Egypt on the preparations for the museum’s opening and the challenges and obstacles that faced its leadership in the construction phase.  
(DNE Photo)

What were the main challenges that faced the construction of the museum and how did you overcome them?
The nature of the museum’s location was an obstacle, but we managed to overcome that problem.

What do the preparations for the museum’s opening entail? 

The iconic statue of Ramses II, transferred from Ramses Square, will be the first thing visitors see at the museum’s main entrance, followed by the great stairway, which will feature about 87 artefacts including statues and architectural elements. It will lead to the two halls of Tutankhamun, which were built on an area of ​​7,000 sqm. They include 5,000 artefacts, of which 4,200 pieces have been already sent to the storages and laboratories of the Grand Egyptian Museum. Only the large Tutankhamun artefacts are still featured at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Tahrir Square, and they will be transferred to the Grand Egyptian Museum right before the opening. The theatrical exhibition of Tutankhamun in the first phase of the museum was prepared in parallel, and we took serious steps to complete it soon.

How are you preparing for the opening and when do you expect it to be? 

The opening will be in the second half of 2018. We are currently coordinating with all concerned bodies, most notably the Ministries of Antiquities and Tourism, the cabinet, and the presidency, to determine the appropriate date of the inauguration. We aim to open the first phase in the coming tourist season of 2018. We recently watched the huge opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and we aim to capture the attention of the world through the opening ceremony of the Grand Egyptian Museum, benefiting from the unique location of the museum beside the Giza pyramids.

We target 5 million visitors annually in the first phase of the museum, and 10 million in the second phase two years later. The Egyptian president and a number of world leaders are expected to attend the opening ceremony, including the emperor of Japan or his representative and the Indian president.

What steps have you taken to restore the artefacts that will be featured in the museum?
We will pose a global tender soon for the preparation of the two main halls. We have also set the layout for featuring huge monuments that will be placed in the main atrium. It was agreed that 87 monuments and paintings should be placed there. We were planning to feature more than that, but we reconsidered the number of monuments, taking into account the visual dimension of the stairway, the size of each piece, and the distribution which would allow visitors to understand the story of each artefact.

How do you see the criticism of the partial opening of the museum, instead of a full opening? 

I respect all the views, but it is normal for large projects to be opened in phases. The partial opening will be spectacular and will feature more than 5,000 artefacts, which is larger than any other complete museums’ openings in major foreign countries. Therefore, this partial opening can be considered a full opening of the museum.

What is the total area of ​​the first phase?
The main atrium, the great stairway, and the two Tutankhamun halls were built on an area of 23,000 sqm, besides another 27,000 sqm area. It means that the first phase will be on an area of ​​50,000 sqm out of total 117 feddans allocated for the project. The remaining area will include hotels, restaurants, and other exhibition areas.

How was the funding for the Grand Egyptian Museum secured? 

The museum’s management, in cooperation with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, succeeded in obtaining another loan from Japan worth $450m in 2016, besides the first loan worth $300m. The Armed Forces Engineering Authority also contributed to rationing expenditures to overcome the challenges of inflation and the flotation of the pound. The cost of construction has not increased despite the inflation, as we used local materials instead of imported ones.

Explain further how you were able to overcome the financing problem after the flotation? 

We used local materials of high quality. Some of the museum’s walls will be covered with local marble to give the sense of sunlight, with the same quality of imported materials. It saved a lot of expenses, up to several millions of dollars.

Why did the museum’s management not use local materials from the very beginning? 

When Egyptian officials launched the project in 2002, the economic situation was different, and the tourist flow was great. However, when we started to implement the first phase, we faced a budget deficit. Therefore, we used appropriate local alternatives to reduce spending without affecting the design of the building.

How will the museum be a part of the pyramids area? 

Currently, we are working on a plan to develop El Remaya Square in cooperation with the Ministries of Planning, Tourism, Antiquities, Interior, and Transportation. The plan aims to expand the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road alongside the Grand Egyptian Museum. The local development authority will relocate a bus stop to another area far from the museum, so that buses can drop off visitors at the museum and then return to their stop.

What about the new metro station planned for the area? 

We are coordinating with the National Authority for Tunnels to open the Grand Egyptian Museum metro station to serve the Egyptians who wish to visit the museum and to reduce traffic congestion.

 

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Is it Salah ad-Din Citadel or Muhammad Ali Citadel? https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/22/salah-ad-din-citadel-muhammad-ali-citadel/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/22/salah-ad-din-citadel-muhammad-ali-citadel/#respond Thu, 22 Mar 2018 08:00:58 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654479 The citadel’s secrets and why people named the citadel of Salah ad-Din after Muhammad Ali

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The Citadel of Salah ad-Din is sometimes known as the Citadel of Muhammad Ali; this is a common mistake. Because of this mistake, many believed that the fortress was built by Muhammad Ali Pasha, who ruled Egypt during much of the first half of the 18th century. Others think it was named after him because he was the last to live in it.

In fact, neither explanation is true. The citadel was built by the order of the first sultan of Egypt and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, Salah ad-Din (also known as Saladin), in 1176, and was completed in 1183. It took seven years to build under the leadership of three governors, Salah ad-Din, his brother, who also became sultan, Al-Adil I, and Salah ad-Din’s son, the fourth Ayyubid sultan, Al-Kamil. Sultan Al-Kamil was the first person to live in the citadel as its construction was completed during his reign.

The citadel includes, within its walls, several palaces, mosques, a prison, and a military fortress.

The citadel was used for about 677 years as the residence of all the rulers of Egypt, from the era of the Ayyubids to the era of Muhammad Ali Pasha and his dynasty until the era of Khedive Ismail. Thus, the khedive is said to be the last ruler to live in the citadel, not Muhammad Ali.

The Mosque of Muhammad Ali is the reason why people get confused and call the citadel after Muhammad Ali; it is one of the largest mosques in Egypt and also the only building that people can see from outside the walls of the citadel.

The Mosque of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali Pasha wanted to combine between the Mamluk and Ottoman styles in the construction of the mosque. So, the mosque consists of the main central mosque and four porticos, which represents the Mamluk style, though the fourth portico was made into a closed mosque, which is an element of the Ottoman style.

The mosque was dedicated exclusively for the royal family. The second floor was reserved for the citadel’s women, including its princesses.

Al-Gawhara Palace

Al-Gawhara Palace is the largest one within the compound’s walls. It was the royal residence, with a throne room, reception, and decrees room. This palace is where Muhammad Ali seized power. Forces loyal to him surrounded the Mamluks and fired at them as they approached, resulting in a massacre which cemented Muhammad Ali’s eminence in Egypt, with possibly only one man escaping unscathed.

This man was Murad Bey, who was lucky enough to arrive late to the party. So, when the shooting started, he took a horse and jumped over the citadel’s wall. The jump was very high, and the horse’s leg was broken, but Murad Bey managed to escape from death twice; once from the shooting, and the second from the high jump.

Because of the massacre, the closest street to the citadel was covered in blood, so it was called Al-Darb Al-Ahmar (The Red Path).

Next came Muhammad ibn Qalawun Mosque

An-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun is a ruler who reigned over Egypt three times; he was well-known as a just king, so when he was deposed, the people once again brought him back to power. Then came his son, Sultan Hassan, who was also known for his justice, hence the Egyptians came up with the idiom “whoever has a child won’t die”.

Muhammad ibn Qalawun built a mosque and named it after himself in the citadel. The mosque was built twice; he did not like the first one and ordered it rebuilt. In that era, the artists were not allowed to sculpt.

Therefore, the pillars of the mosque were not made, but they were purchased from markets. So, the pillars in the mosque are not symmetrical. Some of them were taken from temples or destroyed churches, so people can see a crucifix on one of the pillars and there are others similar to the pillars of Roman and Greek temples.

“Iftar cannon”, also known as Hajja Fatimah cannon

In the minds of Muslims in Egypt, the sound of a cannon is associated with the time of breaking their fast (iftar in Arabic) during the holy month of Ramadan.

The reason is, in the era of Muhammad Ali, they bought a new cannon and wanted to test it and it so happened that they did so at the time of the sunset prayer when people were breaking their fast, so people thought it was a new tradition for Muhammad Ali to announce the time of breaking the fast and they love it. When Muhammad Ali learned that people loved it, he continued with the practice that would become tradition. It has since become a yearly occurrence each Ramadan.

This cannon is also known as Hajja Fatimah cannon, because the guard who is responsible for the cannon has a wife whose name is Fatimah. She used to bring the food to him at iftar time. Because he loved her so much, he named the cannon after her, and when she died, he used to say that the cannon is the only thing he has left as a memory of her.

In the citadel, people can also see the prison where former president Anwar Al-Sadat was confined.

Finally, the harem palace became the headquarters of the British military ruler under the British occupation of Egypt and it has since been turned into the National Police Museum.

In this museum, people can see the uniforms of police officers from the era of the pharaohs to the modern era. There are also photos of the most famous criminals, such as Raya and Sakina, and the story of their lives and how they were caught. In addition, there are also displayed weapons that were used in political assassinations, including ones used in an attempt on former president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s life and the assassinations of Ahmed Pasha Maher and Elnokrashy Pasha.

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Hilton to open 9 hotels in Egypt in 5 years with 2,390 rooms https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/21/hilton-open-9-hotels-egypt-5-years-2390-rooms/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/21/hilton-open-9-hotels-egypt-5-years-2390-rooms/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 14:20:12 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654467 Company aims to expand in hotel management in Upper Egypt, other governorates: Khneisser

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Hilton Worldwide plans to include 2,390 new rooms to its portfolio of the units it manages in Egypt through opening nine new hotels in the coming five years, with plans to expand in the Upper Egypt region and other governorates.

Hilton vice president of development for the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey, Carlos Khneisser, said that the group has adopted the Egyptian market as an important part of its expansion plan, as it intends to open nine new hotels in addition to the 17 hotels and resorts it currently manages in Egypt. The new hotels will add 2,390 rooms in Cairo, Port Said, Ain Sokhna, and New Damietta.

The list of hotels under construction includes the Doubletree by Hilton Mangroovy in El Gouna with 179 rooms, Hilton Cairo Grand Nile in Egypt’s capital with 715 rooms, Hilton Grand Inn Damietta with 120 rooms, Doubletree by Hilton in Ain Sokhna with 197 rooms, Hilton Cairo Nile Maadi with 249 rooms, Hilton Grand Inn at Cairo Business Park with 130 rooms in New Cairo, Hilton Giza Pyramids with 240 rooms, Hilton Ain Sokhna with 180 rooms, and Hilton Port Said with 200 rooms.

Khneisser pointed out that the company is looking for new opportunities and aims to increase its presence in the Egyptian market and not to focus on major cities only, but rather, enter new governorates through its affiliated brands that serve different segments of guests.

The contract for managing the DoubleTree by Hilton Mangroovy in El Gouna is the latest Hilton contract in the Egyptian market.

Khneisser explained that Hilton hotels in Egypt operate under the Hilton and Conrad brands, adding that the company introduced new brands under its management, including DoubleTree, Hilton Garden Inn, and Waldorf Astoria.

Hilton’s portfolio includes 14 brands: Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Curio Collection by Hilton, Canopy by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton, and Hilton Grand Vacations.

Khneisser said the research conducted by market studies companies which cooperate with Hilton confirms the need of the governorates and cities of Upper Egypt for hotel services, but they require lower star levels that fit the needs of guests in those areas. He noted that if Hilton receives offers to manage hotels, it will conduct its own studies that rely on specific criteria, including the location and surrounding sites.

The company signed two hotel deals, one in New Damietta with Saudi Egyptian Company for Reconstruction and the other in Port Said governorate with Tower Developments.

He pointed out that the state has focused its attention on the New Administrative Capital and New Alamein through its plan to transfer administrative services to the new cities, especially universities and business communities, which would in turn create a large demand for hotels.

He noted that the company achieved its target for the current year with the opening of Hilton Cairo Heliopolis. He said the first project to be opened next year will be Hilton Maadi, which is owned by the Saudi Egyptian Company for Reconstruction and features 715 rooms.

Hilton signed two contracts with Gulf Egypt For Hotels & Tourism for the management and operation of Hilton Cairo Heliopolis and Heliopolis Towers Hotel under two separate brands.

Hilton Cairo Heliopolis, which includes 593 rooms, opened to guests last month, along with Heliopolis Towers Hotel, which houses 247 luxury rooms, planned to be under the Waldorf Astoria brand.

Khneisser said that occupancy rates are rising annually, in general, in hotels in Egypt by 11-13%, which he described as a good rate, with expectations for it to rise in the coming years.

He explained that the company prefers to participate in the design of hotels from the beginning for them to be compliant with their requirements according to each brand, but also contract on existing hotels if they are subject to adjustment to comply with their needs, as happened with the Hilton Cairo Heliopolis.

Moreover, he stressed that the company has not broken any of its contracts since the start of its activity in the Egyptian market 50 years ago, but some contracts expired and were not renewed, due to owners not complying with Hilton’s terms and redevelopment goals in line with the company’s requirements to ensure the required service is provided.

He pointed to the decline due to the challenges faced by the Egyptian market in recent years and that the company maintained its presence in Egypt post-2011, which highlights its strength.

He stressed that the market is turning to stability, especially with the return of tourism from several countries, which raises expectations of rising occupancy rates. He noted that the last four contracts that the company signed in the Middle East were for Egypt.

Hilton is one of the world’s leading hospitality companies, with over 5,200 hotels and 856,000 rooms in 105 countries and regions.

 

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30-50% increase in Umrah programme prices in upcoming season: Basel El-Sisi  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/21/30-50-increase-umrah-programme-prices-upcoming-season-basel-el-sisi/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/21/30-50-increase-umrah-programme-prices-upcoming-season-basel-el-sisi/#respond Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:00:04 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654366 The prices of Umrah programmes will increase by at least 30–50% in the first phase of the upcoming pilgrimage season, according to Basel El-Sisi, former trustee of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association. A programme that was worth EGP 8,000 last season will be worth EGP 13,000 this season, he said, and the prices will jump …

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The prices of Umrah programmes will increase by at least 30–50% in the first phase of the upcoming pilgrimage season, according to Basel El-Sisi, former trustee of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association. A programme that was worth EGP 8,000 last season will be worth EGP 13,000 this season, he said, and the prices will jump to EGP 21,000 and EGP 25,000 in Ramadan. The prices of VIP Umrah programmes are expected to reach EGP 75,000 to EGP 100,000 per pilgrim.

He expects the number of Umrah pilgrims to reach 400,000 during the upcoming season.

El-Sisi added, during an interview with Daily News Egypt, that the obstacles facing the Umrah season have already started to show, from the government setting the number of pilgrims 500,000 to the logistics of transporting the pilgrims and obtaining their retinal scans through the company Tasaheel.

What are your expectations for the upcoming Umrah season?

The prices of Umrah programmes will increase by at least 30-50% during the first phase. A programme that cost EGP 8,000 last season will reach about EGP 13,000 this season.

The Ministry of Tourism has determined the number of Umrah pilgrims to be 500,000. The season will be divided into two parts, the first extending until the end of Shaaban, which targets about 400,000 pilgrims. The second starts from early Ramadan and targets 100,00 pilgrims.

How do you see the obstacles of the upcoming Umrah season?

The main obstacle is the company that manages the procedures of retinal scanning. If 15 people applied to obtain the scans, this would require 25 days to finish the process, which is a long period that obliges tourism companies to gather the final count of pilgrims at once and submit their applications at the same time to save time.

This obstacle will result in reducing the number of Umrah pilgrims during the first phase to become less than 300,000, while the targeted number is 400,000. The issue of retinal scans was not considered by tourism companies.

The difficulty of the current period due to the retinal scanning process will lead to an increase in prices, which will eventually have a negative impact on pilgrims. Additionally, there are the fees determined by Saudi Arabia, which are worth SAR 2,000.

Tasaheel increased the cost of the retinal scanning during the past two days per person from EGP 95 to EGP 150 without justification nor oversight by the concerned authorities.

Is the Ministry of Tourism aware of this increase in the retinal scan fees?

This increased happened suddenly. The Ministry of Tourism does not really play a supervisory role over Tasaheel. The concerned parties in this case would be both the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior. In the end, the government is fully responsible for this issue.

I wonder why the process of obtaining the retinal scans is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior instead of Tasaheel. It can be carried out only once, and information would be saved about each pilgrim for further use.

The government is not fully able to handle this issue.

Has the tourism sector taken part in determining the number of pilgrims with the government?

The determined number by the government is 500,000. Tourism companies have offered to postpone the upcoming season if it is in the best interest of the state.

We must be aware that Saudi Arabia has imposed a fee of SAR 2,000 for those who have already performed the rituals of Umrah during the past three years. The value will jump to SAR 3,000 if Umrah was performed in the same year. Additionally, the Egyptian government has also imposed a EGP 10,000 fee on individuals who have performed the pilgrimage in the past three years.

There is an increase in the cost of services in Saudi Arabia as well as value added tax and imposed fees. The EGP 8,000 programme will be EGP 13,000 in the upcoming season. Additionally, flight prices will increase by 75%.

How do you see the impact of the low number of pilgrims on the revenues of tourism companies?

The decline in the number of pilgrims will have a negative impact on the companies, which, in turn, will have to reduce their employment. The jobs of about 125,000 employees are threatened.

Companies that do not have the ability to provide salaries for a year will have a major crisis, as a large percentage of these companies did not expect the situation to be this bad.

The fees imposed on Umrah pilgrims will force a large number of people to resort to a visit visa, which will be equal in expenses but will allow a higher number of visits. The prices of their flights are also much lower.

I would also like to point out that the process of gathering Egyptian pilgrims and the crowding that happens at the airport is the result of Egyptians’ culture and desire to travel in large groups and return at the same time. There is no proper infrastructure for this kind of crowding.

When 300,000 Egyptians travel during the 45-day period before Ramadan, the prices of accommodation at hotels will increase, and this is something that the pilgrims themselves will have to bear.

Do you think that tourism companies will market Umrah trips during the upcoming season?

The limited timeframe will make the idea of marketing a bit difficult because marketing requires sufficient time, and companies were surprised with the start of the season. As a result, the idea of practical marketing is absent.

Tourism companies must begin preparing for the following season and must carry out necessary studies as well as prepare solutions to problems.

There are over 2,000 tourism companies working in Hajj and Umrah programmes. Do you think the market really needs all these companies?

The past period has seen many companies entering the sector of religious tourism which created a lot more supply than needed. We have about 2,500 companies working in Hajj and Umrah programmes, which came at the expense of foreign tourism in light of the decline in inbound tourists over the past seven years.

The short-term solution for this issue is making quick decisions that address the informal entities working in the field. As for the long-term strategy, it requires making changes to the legislative structure of the entire tourism sector.

Moreover, there must be a community discussion about a unified tourism law, and the time of its issuance must be made clear, all of which requires quick procedures to control the market.

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Airlines raise prices of Umrah tickets https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/20/airlines-raise-prices-umrah-tickets/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/20/airlines-raise-prices-umrah-tickets/#respond Tue, 20 Mar 2018 15:06:40 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654368 Prices in last days of Ramadan may reach EGP 16,000-EGP 20,000, tourism workers say

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Airline and tourism companies expect an increase in the prices of air tickets by 30-50% in April. The prices are likely to increase by 70% during the first few days of Ramadan and increase by 100% during the last 10 days of it.

Companies said that the past few days have already witnessed an increase in ticket prices at private airlines and EgyptAir, as the price of a ticket to perform the Umrah rite in Mecca, Saudi Arabia reached EGP 7,250.

Hassan Aziz, former head of the International Air Transport Association, said that the upcoming period will witness crises in the logistical process of transporting pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and back due to a lack of sufficient time.

The Ministry of Tourism limited the number of pilgrims during the current season to 500,000. Twenty percent of them will travel in Ramadan, amid efforts to reduce pressure on foreign currencies.

It has also decided to impose a SAR 2,000 fee on pilgrims who already performed Umrah during the past three years. The amount increases to SAR 3,000 in cases of repeating Umrah within the same year.

Aziz believes that the current Umrah season has seen crises before it even started, as it coincides with the return of Egyptian expatriates from Saudi Arabia, and as EgyptAir’s flights will be busy transporting Egyptian fans to Russia for World Cup matches.

He added that when the transportation of pilgrims is further postponed, this will push airlines to increase the prices of tickets, as the period before Ramadan will include plans by the Ministry of Tourism to transport 400,000 travellers to Saudi Arabia, which is a large number for a period of less than two months.

An official at EgyptAir said that the largest percentage of pilgrims will be transported via EgyptAir and private Saudi aviation companies, while the percentage of those carried by private Egyptian aviation companies will not exceed 10% of the total number of travellers during this season.

The official, who spoke on condition anonymity, said that EgyptAir greater luggage weights, and also better prices, though the real competition will be on the quality of the service.

Many private Egyptian airlines have exited the process of transporting Umrah pilgrims with the decreasing number of travellers over the past two years, leaving only two companies doing so. One of them allows luggage weights of 30-50 kg.

The official added that there are only two private airlines working in the field of Hajj and Umrah activity. One is owned by Saudi businessperson Nasser Al Tayyar, and the other by Egyptian businessperson Rami Lakah.

“Perhaps there will be a last-minute intervention by another private airline, such as AlMasria Universal Airlines. These airlines target travellers with high financial abilities. However, the percentage of Egyptian and Saudi private aviation remains generally low,” Aziz added.

He stressed that the revenues of companies will be impacted by the decline in the number of travellers. However, they will be able to compensate these declines through raising prices, whether those of Umrah or the tickets.

Yousry Abdulwahab, chairperson of the Private Aviation Association, said that the prices of tickets will be determined based on the prices of fuel and operating services at airports.

Abdulwahab added that the share of private aviation will be low, compared to the share of EgyptAir and Saudi airlines working in Egypt.

Wael Mahrous, assistant executive director of the Saudi Diyar Al Madinah, for Umrah services and hotel management, said that the late confirmation of Umrah pilgrims until March will increase prices, which will be good for airlines and hotels in Saudi Arabia.

Nader Emad, general manager of Elaf Group in Egypt, expected the prices of airline tickets to reach EGP 16,000, and jump to EGP 20,000 in the last days of Ramadan, which will limit the ability of those wishing to perform the Umrah rite during the upcoming season.

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Russian company to monitor security procedures for Cairo-Moscow air route https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/19/russian-company-monitor-security-procedures-cairo-moscow-air-route/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/19/russian-company-monitor-security-procedures-cairo-moscow-air-route/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 14:45:38 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=654118 We will meet with Russian side in April to discuss tourism resumption, says Fathy

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Minister of Civil Aviation Sherif Fathy said that a Russian company has been appointed to monitor the security measures for the Cairo-Moscow air route.

During the opening of the 27th Annual African Aviation Conference and Exhibition, MRO Africa 2018, Fathy added that the costs associated with the appointment of the company will be borne by EgyptAir and Russian Aeroflot.

He explained that EgyptAir will be the entity that will monitor the security procedures onboard flights coming from Moscow. Fathy did not disclose the name of the company or the cost allocated for the agreement.

He expected that another meeting will be held by the end of April with the Russian transport minister to discuss the return of tourist groups to Egyptian destinations other than Cairo.

EgyptAir announced the return of direct flights between Moscow and Cairo on 12 April, while Aeroflot will begin resuming its flights to Cairo on 11 April. Russia had suspended its flights to and from Egypt after the downing of a Metrojet airliner at the end of October 2015.

Egypt and Russia have conducted rounds of negotiations on the recommencement of flights until a protocol was signed between the two sides to ensure the safety of flights between them.

Meanwhile, Fathy signed an agreement between EgyptAir Maintenance and Engineering Co and Kenya Airways.

The signing of the agreement was witnessed by Fathy and Safwat Musallam, chairperson and CEO of EgyptAir Holding Company. Under the agreement, EgyptAir Maintenance will provide maintenance services to Kenya Airways planes in Cairo.

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The secret stories of the Museum of Islamic Art  https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/15/secret-stories-museum-islamic-art/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/15/secret-stories-museum-islamic-art/#respond Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:00:21 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=653673 The unrevealed tales of the magic shirts, Ghabn plate and the candlesticks of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi

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Near Cairo’s Downtown, more than 4,500 artefacts collected from years of Isamic ruling eras are showcased, presenting the glory of those times on the walls of The Museum of Islamic Art.

The museum was established in Khedive Tawfiq’s era in the Al-Hakim Mosque. The current museum building was inaugurated in the reign of Khedive Abbas II in 1903.

The museum itself is almost like a maze, so the first thing to be seen in it is a map of the building. Visitors usually follow arrows which guide them to seven different sections. Those sections are organised by the era in which these cultures were established: the Umayyad, Fatimid, Abbasid, Ayyubid, Mamluk, and Ottoman eras. Then comes a section on the Islamic World about India and Turkey.

Because of its tremendous space, the museum is designed to take its visitors in more of a treasure hunting journey. If the visitors want to take a quick tour of the museum, they have to search for golden cards in the building. These cards spotlight the most important artefacts in the museum.

But the most interesting artefacts are the ones most people do not know the stories behind.

The candlesticks of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi 

The Museum of Islamic Art has two marvellous candlesticks that were made especially for Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad), one of the largest mosques in the world and the second holiest site in Islam. The Museum of Islamic Art is the only museum in the world showcasing artefacts known for their holiness.
In AH654, a great fire struck the religious building, caused by one of the mosque’s servants. He went into a storeroom in the mosque with a lamp and lit it. Then he put the lamp on a box, but on that box, there was a cloth of linen which caught fire and spread.

After this accident, which led to the museum’s complete destruction, Qaitbay, the Mamluk sultan who ruled Egypt – and was known for his various architectural structures such as mosques, schools, or houses and commercial markets—ordered the restoration and renovation of the mosque. Egypt was known to build the candlesticks of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi at that time. So, Sultan Qaitbay ordered two extra sticks made, requesting to keep them for the museum.

 

The second artefact is the Ghabn plate, which has a bloody story behind it

Ghabn was the name of one of the Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah’s servants, who consolidated his authority during Al-Hakim’s caliphate.

In AD1011, Ghabn was promoted to become commander in chief. Al-Hakim appointed him to be in charge of social regulations.

History stated that as a ruler, Al-Hakim used to punish whoever objected to any of his decisions, and his punishments are known to have been severely bloody.  In November AD1013, Ghabn was among the many people who were punished for objecting to an unknown decision by the caliph.

So, he was ordered to cut one of his hands that was later sent to the caliph on the currently displayed plate. Al-Hakim kept the plate as a sign of what happens to whoever rejects his opinions. In the same month, Ghabn was further punished by his tongue being cut off, and he died shortly after.

This plate is currently considered the largest plate in Islamic arts.

The next stop for visitors are the magic shirts and bowls

The magic shirts and bowls are objects that are decorated by black and red ink, with geometric designs enclosing Quran verses and certain numbers (talismanic inscriptions). They were widely known for the magic abilities they contain of blessing and protecting their owners.

Kings used to use magic shirts at war, believing they protect them from being killed. However, in one of the wars Suleiman I of Persia fought, the shirt did not apply what the myth said, and everyone wearing such shirts was killed, with clearly visible blood stains. That is when people stopped believing in them.

As for the bronze bowls, they say that they cure diseases of poisoning by snakes or scorpion stings and mental illnesses. They are decorated with readable texts and other unreadable inscriptions. The way to use it was to put water, dates, or milk and then expose it during the night to the dew and then the patient should drink it and repeat this several times.

The museum also displays the oldest marriage contract, made of papyrus, which is attributed to AH91. Moreover, visitors get to see two medals in the name of Muhammad Ali Pasha and Khedive Abbas Helmi II. The first medal was made as a thank you for Muhammad Ali as he approved letting the British pass through Egyptian territories to reach India and the second on the occasion of the return of Abbas Helmi II from Hejaz.

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Colliers International expects hotel occupancy to rise across Egypt https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/13/colliers-international-expects-hotel-occupancy-rise-across-egypt/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/13/colliers-international-expects-hotel-occupancy-rise-across-egypt/#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 17:49:11 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=653520 Company foresees Cairo occupancy to increase to 69%, Hurghada 61%, Sharm El Sheikh 51%, Alexandria 71%

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Christopher Lind, assistant manager at the hosting department of Colliers International, said that the hotel sector will witness stability over the next five years, adding that inbound tourism accounted for 23% of total tourism spending in terms of hotels, aviation, and restaurants, and will likely witness a slow increase over the upcoming years.

During the session titled “A deeper look into the sector of hotels and tourism” during the second day of the Cityscape Egypt Conference, Lind said that spending from inbound tourism will reach 31% in 2022, and spending through local tourism will decline to 61%.

Lind noted that providing visas online will be active for 43 countries within two years. Additionally, in 2016, the EU provided visas for Chinese citizens upon their arrival, which increased Chinese tourism there by 41%. This shows how much legislative and procedural changes directly affect tourism.

He added that capital investments in the hotels sector, internationally, will witness major growth until 2027.

Regarding the sector of tourism and hotels in Egypt, Lind pointed out that 2010 witnessed the highest rate of inbound tourism, as the number of tourists reached 11.7m international tourists, however, the political events from 2011 to 2016 resulted in an unstable performance, especially with the downing of a Russian plane in October 2015, which left a negative impact on the tourism industry.

He explained that the expectations of tourist advisers show that there is an improvement this year, especially with the gradual comeback of Russian and Italian flights.

Lind pointed out that hotels in Cairo witnessed a growth in supply of 1.4%, or 326 new rooms. However, until 2020, Cairo is likely to have about 26,550 rooms added to it east and west of Cairo.

He stressed that the central Cairo area will not see a growth in tourism, especially with the need for maintenance in many hotels that are over 20 years old and have not been properly maintained over the past few years. He pointed out that a growth of 2.3% is likely to take place in new hotels until 2020 in east and west Cairo.

Regarding the volume of occupancy and daily price during the period from 2011 to 2017 compared to 2010, Lind said that Cairo saw a decline of 50% in 2011 compared to 2010, however, the rates were back to normal in 2017, reaching 67%.

He said that the rate of demand was back to normal in 2017, adding that in 2016, the increase in pricing reached 60% following the flotation. He added that hotels will reach a solution for the pricing issue and will adapt to the flotation throughout this year.

As for Hurghada, Lind explained that the occupancy rate declined by 43% in 2016, and slightly increased last year. However, it will be witnessing an improvement and a return to normal rates this year. The situation is similar in Sharm El-Sheikh. However, it is slightly different in Alexandria where local tourism increased and occupancy rates reached 71% in 2017, which is the highest rate among tourist destinations.

Regarding his expectations, Lind said that a 4% increase is expected in hotel revenues in Cairo as there will be an increase to 69% occupancy instead of 67% last year. A growth of 28% is expected in the revenues of Sharm El-Sheikh hotels, with occupancy increasing to 51%. Hotels in Hurghada will see a 27% increase to reach 61% instead of 51% last year, in addition to a 4% rise in the revenues of hotels in Alexandria, with occupancy reaching 71%.

He pointed out that hotels in central Cairo receive the lowest rating from tourists across the governorate, where the rating nears 68% and is subject to decline if no changes are made to these hotels. He pointed out that the rating of five-star hotels is the highest, recording 83%, while there is a scarcity of three-star hotels, which are either not popular enough with tourists or are managed by families or small companies.

Lind stressed that this will be a good field for investment in the hotel sector, especially with the need for them and the inability of many tourists to stay at expensive five-star hotels, pointing out that the assets of hotels in Cairo increased by up to 49%, depending on the type of hotel.

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Opera Aida cost at EGP 13m: SPT Tours chairperson https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/12/opera-aida-cost-egp-13m-spt-tours-chairperson/ https://dailynewsegypt.com/2018/03/12/opera-aida-cost-egp-13m-spt-tours-chairperson/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 07:00:27 +0000 https://dailynewsegypt.com/?p=653196 Cost added burden on company, made it difficult to hold 3-day performance 

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Yasser Shaaban, chairperson of SPT Tours, said that the costs of Opera Aida at the Giza Pyramids area amounted to EGP 13m, including 40% paid to Egypt’s Opera House, next to EGP 650,000 for the Ministry of Antiquities. The show was held on 7 and 8 March.

Shaaban told Daily News Egypt that the company encountered great difficulties in holding the performance at the pyramids area. The most prominent obstacles were the high performance costs in addition to the delay by the concerned parties in issuing the official approvals of the show.

How much did the show cost? What were the obstacles that your company faced in organising it?

The cost of the show amounted to EGP 13m. The Egyptian Opera House received 40% of these costs, which is very high.

The Egyptian Opera House alone got EGP 5m, including EGP 1m to sponsor the event, EGP 900,000 for technicians, EGP 700,000 for clothing and wages of artists and engineers, EGP 650,000 rent per day for the archaeological area, and EGP 250,000 for Misr Company for Sound, Light, and Cinema to compensate the cancellation of its events during the shows.

Are there other obligations besides the Egyptian Opera House?

The Ministry of Antiquities obliged us to pay EGP 20,000 a day during the period of construction of the theatre, which extended over 1,500 sqm.

It took about 20 days to build the theatre, which was equivalent to paying EGP 400,000, in addition to a similar amount during the removal of the theatre after the end of the run.

This cost added burdens to the company, which made it difficult for revenues to cover the costs of holding the show for three days, especially that the company bears the entire costs alone without support from any party.

The tourism and archaeology police were the most cooperative party with the company and involved the lowest cost, with the cost of insurance in full reaching EGP 10,000 for two days.

These were financial difficulties, but did you encounter difficulties with obtaining licenses?

Not only did we face financial troubles and high expenses, but the preparation and obtaining the necessary licenses took about six months, which reduced the opportunity to promote and market the event sufficiently before it was held.

The company addressed the parties concerned with its desire to organise the performance in mid-2017, but the approvals came in December 2017.

The fees demanded by the Egyptian Opera House were the biggest surprise for me. I was surprised during the signing of the contracts. The opera got EGP 5m, including EGP 1m to sponsor the event.

Will these high costs affect expenses and your future activities?

These high costs will force the company to contract with the Verona Opera or the Italian Bucharest Opera for upcoming shows.

Obtaining government licenses is very difficult, costly, and does not give all parties the opportunity to achieve revenues.

I hope the show revenues will cover the high expenses of about six months worth of work as well as the fees paid to the Egyptian Opera House.

It is not just a matter of short-term profit; SPT Tours works in the long term to promote Egyptian tourism and increase tourist flow from such activities, which will benefit both the state and the private sector.

The company aims to attract high-spending tourists during the coming period, in order to enhance the gains and publicity for Egyptian tourism.

The unexpected high cost of holding the show is a major reason behind limiting it to one day instead of three days as initially announced.

Making the show a one-day event forced the company to target 4,500 individuals compared to 1,500 attendees per day if it was held over three days.

The price of the tickets varies according to each category. The bronze category costs about $115 (EGP 2,000), the silver $220, the equivalent of EGP 4,000, the gold $325 (EGP 6,000), and the diamond category costs $550, just under EGP 10,000, which is for VIP customers, especially opera lovers.

The company has gained considerable experience in organising such events as well as marketing and promoting them in different markets, as international media published the news of the performance, which is also good marketing for Egyptian tourism.

Radio Classic in Germany launched a competition which included the selection of three of its listeners to win tickets to Opera Aida in Egypt, as well as all-day radio ads.

The main performance of Opera Aida will be held on Friday and will be preceded by a special performance on Thursday for 1,500 members of the Rotary Club, Gezira Sporting Club, and Alexandria Sporting Club, with a 50% discount on ticket categories.

Do these types of events lead to reviving the influx of tourists to Egypt?

The performance led to the revival of bookings for hotels in the pyramids area during the period of the event. My goal is to deliver a clear message to the world that Egypt is a country of peace and security through the use of soft power.

Holding artistic events is good marketing for Egypt and for tourism, increasing the number coming here one year after another.

We launched a social media advertising campaign through the company’s own efforts and without any government support for the marketing of Opera Aida in Cairo.

We targeted the Japanese market in June. The marketing plan achieved remarkable success, and succeeded in attracting about 700 Japanese tourists to attend the performance within a short time.

The Japanese market has prompted the company to replicate the marketing experience for the performance in nine other countries: America, England, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, China, and Australia.

Targeting these countries is due to their interest in cultural tourism and the company specialises in attracting Japanese tourists to Egypt.

How do you see growth opportunities in terms of Japanese tourists in 2018?

SPT Tours operates in the field of attracting Japanese tourists specifically, accounting for 80% of the volume of Japanese tourism to Egypt. We received 18,000 Japanese tourists last year.

The company targets new markets in the coming period, including the Italian, German, Dutch, and Spanish markets.

Japanese tourists accounted for 22.5% of total ticket sales for the show, followed by Germans with 11%, and Italians with 10%.

The number of Japanese tourists coming to Egypt during the past year reached 32,700 tourists with a growth of more than 70% compared to the previous year.

The company aims to attract 23,000 Japanese tourists by the end of this year, according to the company’s rate of increase in January compared to the same month last year.

I expect an inflow of 60,000 Japanese tourists to Egypt by the end of 2018, in the event of an increase in air traffic between the two countries.

A Japanese tourist typically spends between $700 and $1,000 per week.

Do you plan to hold new events this year?

The company intends to hold a 2019 New Year performance, for which we are choosing between the Temple of in Isis in Philae near Aswan or the Karnak Temple in Luxor.

The company has started to sign contracts with bands from inside and outside Egypt to play at the event.

The company also plans to hold the Isis and Osiris ballet on New Year’s Eve, but the show tickets will be low-priced compared to Opera Aida as the cost will also drop.

The cost of the performance will be between EGP 3m and EGP 4m, and is expected to return EGP 8m in revenues. The show will accommodate about 1,000 attendees.

The company also seeks to hold four main events each coming year, two shows for the solar alignment at the Abu Simbel Temple, a New Year show, as well as a performance for the Nile Flood Festival in Luxor, in addition to Opera Aida.

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