Egypt Independent

Sisi visit to US gives much-needed boost to tourism: minister



The US State Department's statement saying that Egypt is a "safe country" and advising its citizens to travel there by placing the country on the Green Map will help the tourism situation to improve positively, said Tourism Minister Mohamed Yehia Rashed.
 
He added that the statement will positively affect the flow of tourists from the American market and other markets exporting tourism to Egypt.
 
Egypt's political leadership and government are confidently moving in systematic steps toward solving all the problems Egypt is suffering from, especially in regard to the economic situation, said Rashed; adding that he expected Egypt to recover its normal tourism rates from before the year 2011.
 
Experts in the tourism and hotels sector said that the visit of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the United States reshapes the mental image of Egypt; and that his meetings with American business leaders in various fields means that Egypt is moving towards attracting more foreign investment.
 
Sameh Saad, advisor to the former Minister of Tourism, said that the real reason behind the decline of tourism rates is the negative mental image of Egypt promoted through the media abroad, referring to the fact that some foreign media still circulate that the events of June 30 was a coup, not a revolution, he added.
 
Sisi's visit to the US and his previous meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, beside the anticipated visit of Pope Francis at the end of this month demonstrate the willingness of other countries to cooperate with Egypt.
 
Saad told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the president's meeting with businessmen means that the visit is not only aimed at political relations, but also at attracting US and Western investment.
 
American tourists target the expensive cultural tourism that Egypt has been missing since 2010, Saad mentioned.
 
Mohamed Osman, chairman of the Committee for the Promotion of Luxor Tourism, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the statements of the White House and of US President Donald Trump on Egypt reflect a supportive political stance for Egypt, completely different from the position of the Obama administration.
 
The United States is one of the three leading countries in the world of tourism, beside Germany and Japan.
 
Osman added that the spending of an American tourist on average is high, ranging between US$300 to $500 per night; and their stay is no less than 10 nights. 
 
The visit needs to be followed up by government and private sector moves, such as launching promotional campaigns by figures like Zahi Hawass, and Professor Waseem al-Sisi, said Osman.
 
Atef Abdellatif, President of "Mosaferoon" travel and tourism association, said that the president's visit to the US and the rapprochement between the two countries will have a great impact on the return of American tourism to Egypt, especially the classical and Nile tourism, which Americans like the most.
 
He pointed out that the number of American tourists who visited Egypt in 2010 was around 79,000, but declined  to 8,793 tourists in 2016, a limited number compared to the number of the US population of 300 million.
 

Egypt has topped a list of Middle East (ME) countries that are safe for tourism and vacations, according to the US government. Other ME countries deemed safe include Jordan, Oman, UAE and Qatar.

In a supplement issued by the Independent ‘Indy 100’, available through US embassies and consulates, the US government has advised citizens to review the information on the levels of safety for countries around the world before making travel plans.
 
Currently, the regions of lowest safety due to terrorism by the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group are located in Iraq, Syria and Turkey; whereas the US government urges citizens to be cautious while traveling anywhere in Europe due to fears of suicide attacks by the IS group.
 
The report comes just in time, as Egypt seeks to attract tourists again to help support its program of economic recovery.
 
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm