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Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Egypt’s tourism sector expected to grow 30% in 2019, says Al Mashat

Egypt's tourism sector should claw its way back to its pre-crisis high-water mark by the end of this year, Tourism Minister Rania Al Mashat said during a Bloomberg TV interview yesterday (watch, runtime: 3:43). Al Mashat attributed the “quite steep” rebound in the industry to the legislative and administrative reforms implemented under Egypt’s Tourism Reform Program, her ministry’s long-term policy framework aimed at overhauling the sector. The program also helped to improve tourism infrastructure, and focused on branding and promotion for the country. Egyptian Travel Agencies Association boss and Blue Sky Chairman Hossam El Shaer this week said that tourist arrivals have increased some 30% y-o-y so far this year.

Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy is unlikely to have a lasting impact the industry. Al Mashat downplayed the potential losses of thousands of British tourists as a result of Thomas Cook’s recent liquidation. The country is facing the prospect of losing 100k tourists that were expected to book via Thomas Cook next year, while 25k reservations booked up to April 2020 have been cancelled. “The bankruptcy that happened in the British markets not only affects Egypt but other countries… we had invested time in the past few years to diversify the markets where tourism comes from. British tourists are not the main tourists to Egypt anymore,” she said. Former ministry undersecretary Magdi Selim said the loss of Thomas Cook was bound to a negtive, if short-lived, impact on the sector: “The collapse of a leading company like Thomas Cook will inevitably affect tourism in Egypt, but this will be temporary,” he told Al Monitor.

Companies are already bidding to fill Thomas Cook-shaped hole in Egypt’s tourism sector: A number of multinational companies have begun competing to fill the void in Egypt’s tourism market left behind by Thomas Cook, said Ahmed El Wassif, head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation. British package travel operators easyJet Holidays and Jet2holidays are among the candidates to pick up the slack, according to TTG. Bassem Halaka, president of the Travel Agents Trade Union, told Al Monitor that it may only take “up to two months” for new operators to come in and take Thomas Cook’s place.

The situation isn’t great for Blue Sky: Thomas Cook’s local operator Blue Sky Group is owed EGP 125 mn by the now defunct company, El Shaer said yesterday without providing further details, according to Reuters.

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