The new Egyptian tourism minister Yehia Rashid tells fvw he wants to improve the country’s damaged image and attract a record number of German visitors next year.
Rashid, who worked for Marriott Hotels for 33 years and also for other tourism companies, took over from his well-known predecessor Hisham Zaazou in March. On a two-day trip to Germany to hold talks with tour operators and other industry players, he outlined his strategy and plans in an interview with fvw.
“I’m meeting all the German players who are relevant for Egyptian tourism. We’re discussing how we can market our country more aggressively in Germany. The aim is to increase our market share significantly. In addition, we want to change our brand image and spread the message how safe our country is. And how diverse,” he declared.
Rashid declined to forecast how many German tourists might visit Egypt this year compared to the figure of one million in 2015 but said the country would benefit next year from the current activities. “Then I expect two million guests from Germany. Many more therefore than in the record year of 2010 when we had 1.3 million German visitors. Internationally, we’re planning for 10 million arrivals in 2017.”
To achieve these ambitious targets, the tourism minister is counting on better cooperation with travel agents, tour operators, online portals, airlines and media to generate more business. A new advertising campaign, including on TV, will be launched within the next few weeks.
Asked whether the issue of safety would be part of this campaign, Rashid said: “I think it’s more important to send out a message of welcome, like: “In Egypt you are far from your country but you feel at home”. It’s a question of showing how positive and beautiful a holiday with us is.”
On the issue of terrorism, he commented: “Terrorism is a global danger, there are attacks everywhere, for example in Paris, Brussels and London. Egypt is no different, as we’re a part of this world.”
Looking ahead, Rashid said his ministry plans to extend the current subsidies for charter flights beyond the end of October, when they are currently due to expire. “First of all, we want to win back tourists and then modernise our part of the economy. That includes more focus on technology and infrastructure expansion.” Entertainment is one area where Egypt can do more to improve its attractiveness compared to other destinations, he concluded.