Egypt's tourism sector is a significant contributor to the country's foreign currency earnings. After facing challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic and the early days of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the sector is showing signs of recovery.
In the first seven months of 2023, Egypt witnessed a 40% increase in tourist arrivals compared to the previous year. To further boost the tourism sector, the government of Egypt, led by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, has initiated a series of measures and strategies aimed at improving tourism prospects.
In August, President Al-Sisi, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa convened a crucial meeting to discuss key objectives for promoting tourism. These objectives include creating a favorable investment climate in tourist destinations, increasing the number of hotel rooms, and advancing the overall tourism industry.
One of the primary goals discussed during the meeting is Egypt's ambition to attract 30 million tourists annually by 2028. Achieving this target requires encouraging both local and foreign private sector investment and streamlining various facilities and provisions.
To meet the ambitious goals, there is a need for designated land for hotel investments, allowing for rapid construction. Streamlining the acquisition of licenses can help add an additional 150,000 rooms within three to four years.
Administrative enhancements at airports, such as increasing passport counters and visa outlets, are crucial for accommodating a larger number of tourists.
Streamlining the bureaucracy related to hotel licensing is essential. Suggestions include mandating a one-submission process for all required documents, with a license considered valid if there's no response within 30 days.
Egypt currently has 216,000 hotel rooms capable of accommodating 15 to 16 million tourists. To meet the target of 30 million tourists, a 100% increase in hotel capacity is required. This calls for initiatives by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to support struggling hotels and reopen currently closed ones.
Efforts to implement the tourism law are underway. It involves creating a one-stop shop for investors, simplifying bureaucratic processes, and ensuring all hotels meet health, tourism, and civil-protection standards.
Egypt offers incentives such as customs exemptions on imported equipment and relatively low tax rates compared to other countries. The Ministry of Tourism's one-stop shop streamlines procedures for investors.
The new law introduces trends like licenses for Nile cruise ships, mountain safari activities, and eco-hotels with environmental specifications. These developments encourage investment and expand hotel capacity.
To attract investors, Egypt must eliminate obstacles and simplify procedures. Standardizing requirements and procedures under a single umbrella can significantly reduce the time required to obtain approvals.
Egypt can learn from other Mediterranean countries and destinations like Dubai to streamline its procedures and laws, making them more investor-friendly.
Egypt offers a moderate climate, proximity to Europe, high tourist flow, and unique attractions. The country can leverage these advantages to attract more investors.
Emerging destinations like the North Coast and Alamein appeal to Arab tourists with their recreational opportunities, nightlife, and dining experiences. Capitalizing on these areas can contribute directly to state revenues.
Egypt is committed to improving its tourism sector by implementing various measures to attract investors, streamline administrative processes, and expand its hotel capacity. With its unique attractions and favorable exchange rates, Egypt has the potential to become a premier tourist destination, benefiting both the country and its investors.