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Egypt tourism industry 'resilient in crisis'

Cairo, January 17, 2010

Although Egypt’s tourism industry steeled itself for fall-out from the global economic crisis, the figures now show that arrivals were not hit as hard as the country first feared, said the country's tourism minister Zoheir Garranah.

The outlook for 2010 is also promising, with Garranah expecting the number of incoming tourists to rise sharply later next year.

Garranah told Oxford Business Group (OBG), the global publishing, research and consultancy firm, that this was mainly due to the measures Egypt put in place to weather the financial storm combined with initial recovery globally from the downturn.

The Egyptian tourism industry’s past experience in drawing up crisis management plans had helped ensure it was geared up to deal with the impact of the economic slump, he pointed out.

“We took a proactive approach to combating the downturn,” he said. “As a result of precautions taken, we have begun to witness positive signs that reinforce these decisions.”

The minister now predicts growth for the industry of 7 to 10 per cent  in 2010 and estimates that tourist numbers could even reach 14 million in 2011.

Garranah acknowledged that the rate at which the global economy picks up will be a deciding factor in whether Egypt’s tourism industry makes a full recovery.

The fact that an estimated 50 million workers lost their jobs worldwide could not be underestimated, he said, since a considerable number of these were potential travellers.

But he was adamant that the way forward was for the government and the private sector to jointly build on the achievements of pre-downturn performance, giving their attention to core tourism infrastructure in particular.

“Prior to the initial shock of the crisis, Egypt’s tourism sector had grown 25 per cent year-to-date,” he said. “In this economic climate, we believe it is advantageous to focus on rebuilding core tourism infrastructure, including human resources, services and training. The private sector and the Ministry of Tourism must work together on this programme.”

Garranah said that the current economic climate served only to highlight the importance of putting in place measures which would bring long-term benefits to the industry.

“Tourism is one of the principal generators of employment, accounting for 12.6 per cent of the employed population,” the minister added.

He pointed out that as a labour intensive industry that created jobs in almost 70 related sectors, the importance of giving the industry the focus it merited could not be over-estimated.

The interview with Zoheir Garranah will be featured in The Report: Egypt 2010, OBG’s forthcoming guide on the country’s business activity and investment opportunities.

The report also includes a special report on Alexandria and interviews with Ahmed Nazif, Prime Minister of Egypt and Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Egypt | Crisis | resilient | tourism industry |

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