Tourism

Egypt’s New Tourism Strategy for 2024

Egypt’s New Tourism Strategy seeks to double the size of the country’s long-established tourism sector by eliminating the existing bottlenecks in terms of air travel, visas, and sightseeing opportunities.

Image credit: Shutterstock / AlexAnton

The Egyptian tourism industry is iconic.

There are hardly any travel agencies or travel websites which do not boast a picture of the pyramids, the great sphinx of Giza, or another landmark from the ancient country.

The name Egypt is readily associated with exotic traveling in the minds of many Westerners. Being such a high-profile destination has naturally contributed to the economy.

The sector has created direct employment for around 10% of the population. In terms of foreign exchange revenues, over USD12 billion flows toward Egypt with the 15 million tourists who visit the country each year. The industry also accounts for 10-15% of the GDP.

Despite its iconic status, the tourism industry has been through some ups and downs over the years.

The 2000s, for instance, saw rapid growth in the sector, whereas the political turmoil of the early to mid-2010s marked a period of stagnation. According to official statistics, the year 2010 marked a climax in the number of arrivals with 14 million travelers making their way to Egypt, but the figure had shrunk to just over 5 million in 2016.

By 2019, the sector was just about to make comeback by registering nearly 13 million arrivals when tourism was dealt another blow by the outbreak of the new coronavirus and the subsequent travel restrictions.

However, over the last three years the sector has made yet another comeback by welcoming nearly 12 million visitors in 2022. The year 2023 was still better.

The ministry of tourism hoped to close the year with over 15 million arrivals, based on a 33% increase in the number of arrivals which have been reported in the first two quarters of 2023.

Not satisfied with this arguably remarkable growth, the ministry of tourism is contemplating a big boost across the hospitality and travel sector.

The nation’s minister of tourism, Ahmed Issa, recently said to local media that his ministry sees the potential for another 20-30% growth, expressing hope to even raise the number of visitors to over 30 million by 2028. Such a significant improvement cannot happen without a well-structured roadmap.

The ministry, with the help of other stakeholders in the sector, has put together just such a document: the National Tourism Strategy.

Launched in November 2022, the strategy document sets out to achieve its ambitious objective of doubling inbound tourism through tripling the seat capacity of flights to and from Egypt in a joint effort with the ministry of aviation. After all, if Egypt wants to receive more tourists, people must be able to come to the country in the first place.

The national strategy holds the view that the current volume of flights to the country is insufficient, creating a bottleneck for the sector—of which more later.

Secondly, the potential visitors will want to be entertained once inside the country. In this regard, the 2022 strategy “seeks to enhance tourists’ experience if archaeological sites, museums and other landmarks, create convenient products for frequent independent travelers, improve the investment environment and encourage investment in room capacity,” according to Al Ahram English.

The inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in 2023 was certainly a step toward enriching the country’s offerings in terms of cultural heritage.

Also known as the Museum of Giza, the GEM is constructed just 2km away from the pyramids to showcase some 100,000 artifacts dating back to various periods of the Egyptian civilization.

This museum is in many ways unique in the world. “The Grand Egyptian Museum is deemed as the largest museum in the world that includes antiquities of one civilization.

The museum’s construction cost is estimated at USD1.03 billion,” according to Zawya.

The fact that the GEM exclusively showcases artifacts from Egypt and still manages to be one of the largest museums in the world is indicative of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Meanwhile, the large amount of investment in the GEM’s construction, which was partly secured from international financiers, is indicative of the tourism industry’s confidence in attracting visitors in the short term.

The government is further helping by relaxing the visa policies. Indeed, Egypt introduced visa waivers and easygoing visa policies for most Western nationals in as early as the 1970s, but Cairo has gone a step further by making e-visas available for the citizens of many other countries that do not receive an automatic visa waiver.

E-visas have largely digitalized the visa process, meaning that there is no need to visit an Egyptian diplomatic mission for a visa. Since 2017, the citizens of over 45 countries may apply online for their 30-day tourism visas, including those from most parts of North America, Latin America, Europe, and the GCC as well as the citizens of India, China, and Russia.

The visa policies were further relaxed in 2020, which significantly facilitated the process of inbound tourism. Arrivals from countries with a sizable emerging middle class such as China, in particular, can help Egypt achieve its target of 30 million tourists in the near future.

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