Many Saudi families are now booking their flights to their favourite holiday destination – Egypt.
Tourism in Egypt has been hit hard after two revolutions, in addition to the political instability that swept the country. But now with the election of a new president, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the country is entering a new era of peace and stability.
Egypt’s economy has been greatly affected as the number of tourists dropped sharply, affecting more than four million people working in this sector.
Egypt has always been a preferred destination for Saudi families during the summer and for others who want a close weekend getaway and this year there are many who are planning to travel to Egypt for their summer vacation, reports the Saudi Gazette.
During the last three years the vast majority of Saudis decided to visit countries in Europe and Asia, but now it looks like they are returning to Egypt.
“The number of Saudis travelling to Egypt is on the rise compared to last year,” said Essam Abdel Ghaney at Nile Travel & Tourism Agency in Jeddah.
Families’ making travel plans to Egypt is a good sign that things are gradually returning to normal and that there are no worries about safety. Before, families were avoiding travelling with their children as Egypt’s security situation was unpredictable.
Motea Al-Shanqiti, a Saudi who is a frequent traveller to Egypt, said that since 2010, he has not travelled with his family because of the political unrest.
“For the past three years, I have only visited Cairo if it was necessary and left immediately after business was done. This time I am going back with my family and planning to spend the whole month travelling all over Egypt,” Al-Shanqiti told the Gazette.
Abu Feras, a Saudi father of five and an owner of a house outside Cairo, said his family has not travelled to Egypt since the revolution.
He is now planning to travel with his family as he feels the political situation is now stable.
He says “Egypt is a beautiful country and it is about time it reappeared as a favourite destination.”
The owner of a travel agency in Cairo said that before the revolution their main target was to earn more money, but now the goal is to get back as many tourists as possible to Egypt.
“We want to restore faith in the heart and minds of Saudi tourists that Egypt is a safe place,” he said.
Of all the sectors of Egypt’s economy, tourism has had the toughest time since the two revolutions that toppled former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi.
The sector, which weathered the 2008 financial crisis and recorded $12.5 billion in revenues in 2010, contributing 11 per cent to the country’s GDP with almost 15 million tourists, failed to survive the political turmoil of the post-25 January Revolution. Its contribution to the country’s foreign reserves dropped significantly in 2011, generating revenues of $8.7 billion.
In 2012, the sector picked up again and about 11.5 million tourists visited the country, generating some $10 billion in revenues, all of which was reversed in 2013 following the ouster of Morsi as president and the aftermath of dispersing pro-Morsi sit-ins in Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al- Nahda squares.