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Egypt eager to double tourist numbers

afrol News, 9 October

Inspired by record numbers in tourist arrivals last year and high popularity rates among northern charter companies, Egyptian tourism authorities aggressively are to market their country as a leading tourism destination abroad. By 2014, Cairo authorities hope to double tourist numbers, and they are well on schedule despite the terrorist attacks earlier this year.

The Egyptian Tourism Authority today announced its strategy on how to achieve its ambitious aim of 2004 - to "double visitor numbers from eight million in 2004 to 16 million in 2014." Ahead of this year's northern winter season, a highly profiled marketing campaign was today launched in Cairo, which is to be aired in Egypt's major tourist markets.

Zoheir Garranah, Egyptian Minister for Tourism, launched 'The Gift of the Sun' campaign, which is to be rolled out across Asia, Europe, and North America over the next 24 months, building on the success of the 'Red Sea Riviera' and other campaigns, which were key factors in helping Egypt welcome a record 8.6 million visitors in 2005, according to a statement sent to afrol News by the Egyptian Tourism Authority.

Minister Garranah commented "We are very excited to be launching a new global advertising campaign which we believe truly reflects the many wonderful experiences Egypt has to offer its visitors. We believe the new campaign is our most creative and dynamic yet, and we look forward to welcoming more international visitors to Egypt for many years to come."

The TV commercial is comprised of a set of 10 individual scenes, each depicting different elements of Egypt, from sunrise to sunset, passing through the pyramids, Cairo, River Nile and the modern charter tourist destinations along the Red Sea coast. The campaign in particular aims to shift the traditional 'once in a lifetime trip' perception of Egypt, by positioning it as a year round destination, offering a diverse range of holiday options and experiences.

No expenses have been spared by the Egyptian Tourism Authority's global advertising agency DDB Travel and Tourism. The creative is directed by celebrated French film director Michel Meyer of Blue Marlyn Productions,l who is best known for the highly successful Rolex campaign in 2003, the Guadeloupe advertising campaign launch in 2005, as well as his impressive portfolio of international campaigns and work. A team of 50 Egyptians were also involved in the production.

Egypt has stood out rather competitively as a tourist destination during the last few years, especially as living costs at traditional South European sun-and-fun destinations have become higher. Proximity to both the European and Asian market has secured cheap airfreight and a massive construction of new destinations along the always sunny Red Sea coast has opened up Egypt for large-scale charter tourism. For both Europeans and Asians, Egypt can offer culture in addition to sun and fun, while a growing number of Arab tourists thrive in the Arabic speaking country that can also offer Western goods - and sins.

Thus, visitor numbers have steadily increased. Up from almost nothing after the terrorism wave in the 1990s, tourist arrivals reached 8.0 million in 2004. In 2005, international tourist arrivals reached a record high of over 8.6 million, an increase of six percent on 2004.

Also this year started well. "Figures for January to June 2006 show a 12 percent increase on the same period in 2005, according to the Egyptian Tourism Authority, which hopes to break the 2005 record this year. Despite the good start, however, the terrorist attacks on the Sharm el Sheikh resort at the Red Sea earlier this year reportedly lead to several months of tourism drought.

It remains unsure how this event will influence 2006 statistics at large, as Egypt is showing a remarkable ability to recover its market after each such event. The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) earlier this year noted that travellers were getting used to the fact that such attacks happen from time to time, and in fact could happen anywhere, as the terrorist attacks on Madrid and London had shown. Memories of TV images were short-lived, WTO concluded.

While international tourists started streaming back to Egypt's luxury resorts at the Red Sea only a few months after the attack, tourism analysts also have started fearing a new trend, emerging in Northern Europe. Almost daily media images of fundamentalist Muslims declaring war on Western society had caused a growing number of travellers to exclude Muslim countries from their travel plans altogether, recent surveys in Scandinavia showed.

Egyptian tourism authorities - who avoid speaking about this issue - hope their country can be kept outside of this negative image growing in Europe. After all, most people still associate Egypt with the pharaohs, the pyramids, the Nile and Red Sea coral reefs. The new marketing campaign wisely underlines this image and refreshes the memory of Egypt as it is in the sub-consciousness of most potential travellers.


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