The Blue Sky Group is planning to build three new hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh, Hossam El-Shaer, Chairman of Blue Sky Group, told the Daily News Egypt in an interview.
Travel agent Bright Sky Travel, affiliated to Blue Sky Group, received 570,000 tourists who visited Egypt last year, and aims to raise the figure to 800,000 in 2015, El-Shaer said. The company attracted over half a million tourists in 2014 marketing campaigns in Russia and Eastern Europe, while the numbers from West Europe were low.
Bright Sky is aiming to increase tourist arrival numbers through improving the quality, El-Shaer said. “We are convincing Thomas Cook and other tour operators to increase flight capacity and marketing fields,” he added.
When asked how he sees the issue of decreasing the number of Russian tourists affected by the devaluation of the Russian rouble, El-Shaer said that Bright Sky has increased European trips such as Poland and Latvia. He added that the Russian tourism has recovered quickly.
Reviewing the current security situation, said to be the main reason behind the slump in tourism rates after the 25 January Revolution, El-Shaer assessed Egypt’s security as good, “we feel Egypt is safe again”.
However, whilst El-Shaer is dissatisfied with the government’s tourism promotion plans, he said that Egypt’s target to attract 12 million tourists by the end of 2015 is “achievable”.
Blue Sky Group currently operates 13 hotels and seven cruises in Egypt. The company does not intend to increase Nile cruise ships, according to El-Shaer.
Although the government is taking action to lure foreign investments and tourism, Egypt’s most important sources of foreign currency, the security situation remains a challenge with the number of bombs in Cairo’s streets rising.
The Ministry of Tourism is targeting investments worth EGP 10bn by launching five tourism projects across the Red Sea area. The projects announced will be in the hotel, entertainment and service sectors, according to an official at the ministry. The official told the Daily News Egypt in March that the number of hotel rooms in the five projects exceeds 3,000, in addition to entertainment and commercial projects that aim to increase Egypt’s tourism expenditure.
Egypt has been dependant on a promotional campaign to restore tourism, with the latest campaign “Misr Qareeba” (Egypt is Close) launched in late February. The campaign specifically targets the Arab market, to support inter-Arab tourism, the tourism ministry said.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, hotel capacity in Egypt is 225,000 rooms, 65% of which are in the Red Sea and South Sinai. The rest are distributed between Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan. Further, tourist expenditure per night during last year increased from $74.3 at the beginning of 2014 to $81.3 at its end, according to former tourism minister Hisham Zaazou.