As the world faced an unprecedented global health emergency as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, travel and tourism were among the most-affected sectors, with significant cancelled reservations, a decrease in international travel, and a shutdown of the industry lasting for months.
The tourism sector was transformed as a result, creating new challenges and new development paths.
Although the recovery of tourism is fraught with uncertainties, changes in tourist travel habits and behaviour offer a unique opportunity for tourism in Egypt to recover in a way that respects the principles of sustainable development.
A crisis is always an opportunity to rethink and draw up a road map for recovery, and Egypt used a time when tourism and the travel industry were undergoing a major slowdown due to the pandemic to undertake a comprehensive study of its tourism communication strategy to cope with changes in travellers’ behaviour, motivation, and reasons to travel and at the same time to best reflect its aspirations for the market.
It was about giving consumers a new frame of reference to make everything they believe about Egypt more interesting and to elevate its importance while providing a more modern and contemporary context to help them to choose their vacation in Egypt.
“We need to see that Covid-19 has changed the tourism industry, and we have an opportunity during the slowdown to communicate all that Egypt has to offer in this new reality, and we need to do it in a massive way,” said Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Enany.
He said that a Canadian-British consortium had been assigned to prepare Egypt’s new branding strategy and to re-image its tourism for the future. The process took around six months of study and research and included studies of Egypt’s previous tourism strategy as well as work done either internally or in the Ministry of Tourism over the last 20 years.
It involved online digital listening to travel and tourism content through analysing 80 million posts on social media over the last 18 months in various regions of the world, as well as conducting over 50 in-depth interviews with international travel agents, tourism stakeholders from the private and public sector in Egypt, politicians and government officials.
Site visits across Egypt were carried out along with quantitative research by distributing survey samples to 12,000 people in 12 of Egypt’s primary source markets to gain insights on Egypt’s strengths and weaknesses as perceived by potential travel segments and to clearly understand competitors in other international destinations.
All these materials have been delivered to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the strategy has been completed.
Today, El-Enany said, there was a clear, focused, and up-to-date direction on how to move forward with Brand Egypt in the light of Covid-19 and over the next three years, including a vision and mission and brand priorities in a clearly phased plan.
A new platform is now available to build a strong brand to portray Egypt as a safe and much more dynamic, fun-loving, and human destination that people don’t just look at, but can also join in with. Audiences are looking for an experience that is engaging and enjoyable and accessible, the minister said. Workshops have been organised to align key stakeholders, whether from the private or the public sector on the new strategy so that they can all work together in the same direction for greater impact.
Dina Ezzat, a marketing communication expert working with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, said the strategy set out a vision and presented a blueprint for Egypt’s tourism stakeholders in both the private and public sectors and also recognises the general public’s role in helping the sector.
It aims to show potential visitors the diversity of experiences that Egypt has to offer as a rich and diverse tourism destination. It says that one trip is not enough. It will continue to show off Egypt’s magnificent monuments and archaeological sites, as well as highlight its contemporary culture such as the arts, film, music, fashion, and sports and show visitors an artistic and creative side of Egypt that is thriving.
The strategy intends to show the unique character of Egypt as warm, vibrant, and youthful and to clearly position Egypt as an all-year-round destination blessed with wonderful weather.
PROMOTION: The ministry has gone forward in applying some of the advice in the strategy by launching a massive international promotional campaign.
This has seen the organisation of small events at archaeological sites along with major ones such as the Pharaohs Golden Parade in Cairo that transferred 22 royal mummies from their display in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in Fustat.
There was also the opening of the Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor that celebrated the inauguration of a route that once connected the Karnak and Luxor temples and presented Luxor as the biggest open-air museum in the world.
Both events made the headlines of the international and local media.
More such events will be organised next year, including the celebration of the solar alignment at the Abu Simbel Temple in Upper Egypt on 22 February. 2022 is a very special year for Egypt as it is the centenary of the discovery of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb and the bicentenary of the deciphering of hieroglyphics by French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion. Above all, it marks the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau.