Tourism at Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, we read, has plummeted. At the Giza Pyramids, not one Western tourist could be seen by a Reuters correspondent as the sun set on an April weekday. Surely this makes it the perfect time to visit?
Egypt’s tourism minister has forecast that 2011 revenue will be 25 percent lower than the previous year, but even this may be bullish; many travel companies are offering large discounts. This has dealt a devastating blow to the millions of Egyptians (one in eight) whose livelihoods depend on the 14 million or so visitors who until this January visited annually.
Mass-market tour operators like TUI and Thomas Cook have responded to the decimation in demand by cutting Egypt itineraries and focusing on alternative destinations.
I sat down with Amr Badr, Abercrombie & Kent Egypt and the Middle East’s managing director, to see what local operators can do and are doing to welcome back the hordes. I found a man surprisingly optimistic, refusing to go down the unsustainable discount route.