Would you like to make English your default language, on this site? |
Egyptian authorities have recently launched intensive security campaigns to restore order around the country, in a move that aims to revive a lagging tourism industry
The security crackdowns came as part of President Mohamed Morsi's 100-day plan to solve some of the country's most pressing problems.
"Making tourist areas safe and restoring tourists' confidence can only be achieved after security is completely restored, which is what security authorities have begun to actually carry out on the ground," said Mahmoud Shukri of the Ministry of Tourism's Tourism Development Authority.
The campaigns included the tourist areas of the Red Sea and Hurghada, especially the tourist walkway in Hurghada, a major destination for foreign tourists, Shukri said.
"The campaign included pursuing wanted individuals and removing illegal vendor stalls and [other] encroachments on public lands," he said."We also deployed many security teams in major tourist areas to establish security on a permanent basis in those areas."
Several ministries are involved in efforts to restore tourism to its previous levels, including interior, justice, finance, local development and tourism, he said.
According to Shukri, new, soon-to-be-issued regulatory decisions will make it easier for tourism companies to operate. Regulations that currently restrict tourism companies and hotels to using limousines will be amended to allow them to use ordinary cars, and will not specify a minimum or maximum number of passengers, as they do now. Customs regulations will also be amended so companies can more easily import vehicles for tourism purposes.
In addition, Egypt's Tourism Ministry has already worked alongside the Arab Tourism Organisation to attract Arab tourists from the Gulf by increasing the number of flights between Arab capitals and tourist areas and villages in Luxor and Aswan, he said.
"The ministry's efforts are also currently focused on ensuring the success of the Pharaons Rally, a major tourist event that has been running for decades, scheduled for the September 29th," Shukri said. "The rally carries great importance because it receives wide attention in the media and will reflect positively on tourism in Egypt in general."
Mahmoud Sami, director of a tourism company, told Al-Shorfa that on-going security efforts will soon pay off when the second phase of Morsi's plan to restore confidence in Egyptian tourism begins.
The second phase includes intensive promotions to lure tourists back, especially Europeans, who stayed away from Egypt recently because of the deteriorating security situation, he added.
Sami said many tourism company owners developed a promotional plan to travel to Europe to speak with tourism companies there.
"Communication did in fact take place with some European companies, especially German ones, after they threatened to take Egypt off the winter tourism map. The effort succeeded in [reversing] that decision after the German side was persuaded the measures the security authorities are implementing are rigorous and serious," he said.
A delegation of tourism companies will also travel to China to gain new contracts, Sami said.
Shaker Abdul-Azim, a member of the board of directors of a Sharm el-Sheikh resort, lauded the efforts to promote tourism, describing them as "reassuring".
According to Abdul-Azim, some tourist groups have already begun arriving at tourist villages, including groups from Japan, whose country lifted the ban it had imposed on travel to Egypt due to security conditions. The United States also lifted its ban.
"This will benefit all tourist sectors, including hotels, restaurants and souvenir and ancient artefact bazaars," he said.
Last month Egyptian government to re-opened the Cairo-to-Luxor boat trip line for the first time in 18 years, he said.
"That will link the points on the tourist map in an efficient and attractive way for tourists," Abdul-Azim said.
In the first quarter of this year, 2.5 million tourists visited Egypt, an increase of 32% from the same period last year, AFP reported.
Still, the figure is 27.8% lower than the same period in 2010.