Promising changes are afoot in the tourism business, with local advertising agency Synergy and international agency IPG/MCN teaming up to promote Egypt more efficiently to global tourism markets, Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat has announced.
“It’s time for a change. We wanted an Egyptian company that understands our concepts that can translate our vision to an international agency, and this has been achieved through the new alliance,” Al-Mashat said, referring to a consortium that includes the Middle East Communications Network (MCN), part of the Interpublic Group (IPG), a global marketing company.
The new consortium includes Universal Media (UM) that will promote the ministry’s strategy and book broadcasting and advertising spaces in the international media. It also includes Weber Shandwick, a global public relations company, which will manage PR services and crisis management.
Joining the consortium is FP7/MCcann/Craft, which specialises in managing social-media platforms and developing and marketing digital content to suit each touristic market. There is also Jack Morton, a branding agency with expertise in curating international events, and Initiative Media, in charge of publishing digital content.
“The campaign will work in three phases: changing mental images about not only Egypt, but also Egyptians, and this will be the focus of the People to People campaign that will be launched soon, inaugurating the Grand Egyptian Museum in 2020, and promoting each tourist city’s trademark features,” Al-Mashat said.
Joint efforts between the international company and local tourism agencies should ensure the best strategy possible for each market based on the individual figures, said Sameh Saad, a former tourism advisor at the Ministry of Tourism.
Mohamed Hassanein, manager of Galaxia Tours, a tourism agency working in the Spanish market, said the number of tourists recently arriving in Egypt had been the result of efforts made by private-sector companies. “No promotions were made by the Egyptian Tourist Authority,” he said.
Egypt recorded $9.8 billion in tourism revenues during the past fiscal year, which ended on 30 June, up from $4.3 billion the year before.
The new consortium replaces the advertising agency JWT whose three-year contract expired in September. The company’s stint faced various obstacles, among them the crash of a Russian plane in Sinai in October 2015 that resulted in a Russian travel ban.
A source at JWT, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that had Russian holidaymakers returned to Egypt, the numbers would have exceeded those recorded in 2010, a bumper year for Egyptian tourism with 14 million vacationers bringing in over $12 billion in revenues.
Another hurdle was the controversial killing of Italian student Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016, leading to the loss of the Italian market, one of the largest touristic exporters to Egypt and Marsa Alam and Hurghada in particular.
The World Travel Market (WTM), which will be held in London from 5 to 7 November, will be the first major promotional event for the new alliance.
“Egypt’s booth at the WTM will be digitalised in line with the World Tourism Organisation’s wish to digitalise tourism,” Al-Mashat said.
“Jack Morton will design the booth using state-of-the-art techniques in graphics and animation to revive its Egyptian character,” Sahar Al-Zoghby, manager of IPG/MCN, said.
The Synergy company seeks to attract new and unconventional markets, said Hassan Kamal, its executive manager, according to researched data and changes on the world’s tourism map.
“At the WTM, technology will reign supreme in the Egypt booth, which will use holograms and digital marketing to deliver a breathtaking image of the country,” he said.
Saad said it was important to pinpoint the type and age of holidaymakers in each market. “This is the best way to identify the most suitable means to address the tourists. There should be different ways to promote a destination to a younger or older age group,” he said.
To promote Egypt in the French market, for example, an invitation could be extended to the French archaeological expedition that recently made discoveries at a number of sites.
The invitation could be sent to French media professionals and tourist agencies to attract French vacationers interested in cultural tourism, Saad added.
Former head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation Elhami Al-Zayat said it was important to strike a balance between promoting cultural-tourism destinations such as Luxor and Aswan in countries where holidaymakers are interested in this kind of tourism and promoting coastal destinations that still attract the majority of tourists.
Al-Zayat emphasised the importance of picking the right way to promote Egypt in each market. “During the tenure of the previous tourism minister, advertising for Egyptian tourist destinations in the UK was carried out through the radio, since English people use their own cars a lot.
In Belgium and Denmark, the promotional campaigns were displayed on train routes because people there use public transport,” Al-Zayat said.
When deciding on television to advertise in a given country, it is important to pick the channel with the highest viewing figures, he said.
Meanwhile, Kamal said of the Synergy campaign that “it will use flexible marketing mechanisms combined with advanced technologies and creative tools to fulfil the demands of each market and open up new ones.”
At the press conference announcing the alliance between Synergy and MCN/IPG, Kamal said the international company worked in 120 countries and had conducted numerous successful promotional campaigns around the world, including in Morocco, Spain, Greece, Thailand and Mexico.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 18 October, 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Campaigning for tourism