Photograph — sunshineco.uk

Testament to increased confidence in the country’s tourism sector, Steigenberger, representing Deutsche Hospitality in Egypt, will open new hotels in Taba and Luxor by the end of 2019. Thomas Willms, Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Hospitality made the pledge in a chat with Daily News Egypt.

Noting the proactive measures taken under president Sisi’s administration to boost tourism, Willms said, “We see the positive efforts the government is undertaking to foster economy, especially the tourism sector. The government did some great efforts in the private sector; they improved transparency and strengthened social solidarity pensions. They did a lot to bring Egypt back on the right track by promoting Egypt’s tourism all over the world.”

Pointing to a spectacular 2018 for Steigenberger in Egypt, their best year since 2012, Willms said hotel occupancy grew from 21.2 to 60.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019. All of which means the government is getting something right in its renewed drive to increase tourism, a sector which contributes 20 percent to Egypt’s GDP and provides about 3 million jobs.

Egypt’s Tourism Minister Rania Al-Mashat said the government considered the sector crucial for its growth. In a session with global partners like the International Finance Corporation and World Bank, Al-Mashat said the government had an audacious plan of having at least one Egyptian household member working directly or indirectly in the tourism sector in future.

Audacious doesn’t begin to cover it. But it points to a calculated effort by a serious government to capitalize on its strengths. Egypt had adopted a tourism structural reform programme in November 2018, laying down a plot for wide-ranging developments across the tourism sector, including necessary legislation, promotion and infrastructural reorganization. The currency floatation in 2016 was also a good bounce back measure, with cheaper prices proving too good for even the wariest tourists to not take advantage of.

With 150 hotels in 11 countries, 90-year old Deutsche Hospitality is a global force in hotel management. Steigenberger is one of the leading hoteliers in Egypt with 12 hotels spread across the Red Sea, Sharm El-Sheikh, Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan governorates. The company employs more than 3,000 people in Egypt. It had announced a plan to add three new hotels in Egypt in April, as well as hiring five new general managers and one hotel manager as part of a scheme to increase its Egypt presence.

This adds to a slew of good news for Egyptian tourism since the year began. In February, Radisson Group announced a plan to establish six new hotels in the country. In mid-June, Thomas Cook said it would add two new hotels to its contingent in Egypt. On June 28, Germany lifted a 5-year travel ban to Taba.

Rising insecurity had resulted in multiple European countries restricting travel to Taba, with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs removing the location from its official travel guide for German tourists. Egypt’s tourism revenue was put at $12.3 billion, generated from 14.7 million tourists in 2010. Egypt may just be on its way to bringing back those old good days.

By Caleb Ajinomoh

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