News ID: 166956
Published: 0220 GMT August 16, 2016

Egypt's tourism sector eying Chinese market

Egypt's tourism sector eying Chinese market

Warm sunshine, peaceful beaches and colorful reefs are always essentials for a heaven-like vacation, and also the reason why Sharm el-Sheikh is famous around the world. However, as Egypt's most famous tourism city, Sharm el-Sheikh is still suffering from sluggish income growth in the tourism sector, with hope in the coming season and a new market — China.

"We have gone through a very tough period because of terrorism," Egyptian Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed told Xinhua recently, adding that the declining dollar income in tourism is the main reason for the current economic woes in his country.

Egypt has been suffering from a weak economy, especially in tourism, which is the second largest US dollar income sector, over the past few years due to political turmoil.

The situation further deteriorated due to Russian plane crash in Sinai that killed over 200 in October last year and a tragic fall of an EgyptAir flight in May that killed all 66 people on board.

"Egypt is where history started, and tourism is a very cultural-embedded industry. We have one-third of the antiquities of the world and the largest beaches on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, which I believe is very attractive for Chinese tourists," Rashed said explaining Egypt's interests in the Chinese market.

"With the testimony of all people, including the Chinese living in Egypt, it is evident that Egypt is safe and a good choice for everyone for holidays," he added.

According to a report by the Egyptian statistics authority, the number of tourists coming to the country declined by 51.7 percent in May compared to the same month last year mainly due to flight bans by Russia, Britain and some other Western states after the plane accident last year.

At the same time, the number of Chinese visitors to Egypt increased from 65,000 to 135,000 in 2015, while the tourism ministry targets multiplying the number in 2016, given the growing relations between the two countries.

"The good news is we have witnessed a slow growth in tourists recently, especially during the vacation month in the Arab countries," Khaled Fouda, South Sinai governor of Egypt, said.

"Besides the traditional origins of tourists, now we have turned our eyes on China, a country with a large population and ancient culture, similar to Egypt," the governor said, adding that Sharm el-Sheikh is highly and technologically-based re-secured, ready to welcome people from around the world.

He also said that Chinese people still don't know enough about Egypt. "It means that we have broad prospects in the Chinese market," Fouda added.

Along the coastal strip of Sharm el-Shaeikh there are hundreds of hotels, resorts and travel agencies. Some of them have closed, only leaving the buildings beside the sea, while others are trying to attract the shrinking number of tourists by offering lower prices.

"My family has become habituated to Sharm el-Sheikh as every summer we come here with friends," George Turk, a middle-aged Jordanian said.

He said that years ago, Sharm el-Sheikh was always full of people from Britain and Russia. Now he noticed the increasing number of Chinese tourists.

A Chinese student named Li Ruiqing told Xinhua, echoing the governor's words, that "for most Chinese people, Egypt is still a distant country with mysterious culture. They like beaches and old temples, but they don't know Egypt very well."

For Semih Elbaba, the manager of a famous hotel named Rixos Seagate Sharm, business idea is a little different from others.

"Differing from the other owners who have shut their hotels or promoted cheaper packages while firing some staff, we choose to maintain our price and develop more projects," Elbaba said.

Elbaba, who is experienced in hotel management, said Sharm el-Sheikh is reviving slowly, and his hotel will work on some promotion campaigns in China. "We don't worry about the income in the short term, we cast our hope in the future," he said.

   
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