The vice president of the Tourism Investors Association in Marsa Alam Tarek Shalaby did not expect a high rate of bookings for the coming winter season because of the conditions experienced by the Egyptian tourist sector for more than four years. However, there haven’t been any consequences yet for the recent terrorist incident in Hurgada.
During an interview with Daily News Egypt, Shalaby said that the current occupancy ranges between 25% and 30%, all of which are last minute bookings from the Ukrainian, German, and Italian markets.
Are there any closed hotels here in the area?
Of course, there are about 25 hotels that have been closed for some time now. The hotels, which are actually working for more than 40 establishments, are closing some of their hotel rooms, some of them to reduce costs and losses. As for those who can’t reduce losses, closing the hotel was their only solution. However, the advantage of this is that hotels that are available are actually stable and ready to welcome tourists any time.
Experts described the price of accommodation in the region as very low, despite the increased cost of operation. How do you see it?
The one night stay for a person ranges between $12 and $18, which is a very low price and hotel management companies cannot increase prices in light of the drop in demand for holiday destinations in the region.
Recently, there has been an increase in the prices of energy, fuel, salaries, vegetables, and food in general by at least 15-20%.
The hotel management companies are forced to either accept and pay these prices or to close the doors of the hotel, which will result in greater losses.
What are the nationalities of tourists coming to the region currently?
About 60% of them are Ukrainians, which is the largest proportion of tourists. Germans represent 20%, Italians 10%, and the remaining percentage are tourists from other nationalities.
Is there Arab tourism in the region, especially since you have made efforts to attract Arabs to the region during the recent period?
I am sorry to say that these efforts failed, and there is no Arabic tourism to the region. I was hoping to increase the flow of the region not only from Europe, but also from the Arab region, especially as there are new segments of youth in the Gulf countries that are looking for relaxation on beaches.
Why did those attempts fail as mentioned?
There is no real support from the Ministry of Tourism for the region or cooperation between the ministry and the private sector. Unfortunately, we hoped there would be flights between Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Morocco. The obstacles include the price of the trip which could reach $64,000, and some countries have restrictions in granting visas to its citizens coming to Egypt.
Marketing in the world for tourist destinations has become very sophisticated. There are 30,000 Saudi tourists who will be heading to Bosnia this summer.
What about the internal tourism of the region. Has there been any change in this aspect?
This idea has not seen any tangible movement since 2010, and investors in the region have been tired from the need to find a solution. We have been complaining over the high price of airline tickets for Egyptians to spend their holidays in the region.
We asked the Minister of Tourism Yehia Rashed to intervene directly to solve this crisis. The increase in the number of Egyptian families during the current summer season means protecting investments of more than EGP 15bn, as well as activating the tourism movement at Marsa Alam airport or hotels.
In light of the high prices of all services, there is no sign of hope for the flow of Egyptians to the region, especially with that tourist facilities are quite far in the south-east of Egypt.
What about investments in the region during the recent period?
There are no recent investments in the region from where investors come in. Many are hoping to repay old loans that they have received from banks.
In order to have new investments in a region there has to be touristic demand, and currently there is no demand in this region. It is not limited to new investments, but extends to the cessation of any new hotel extensions.