Point-blank: The state of tourism

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 4 Jun 2024

I follow the news of tourism in Egypt closely. Firstly, tourism is the country’s engine of growth, as the late Mamdouh Al-Beltagui put it.

 

Or at least it should be. Secondly, reinvigorating and boosting this sector is a key to modernising society and connecting it to and catching up with the rest of the world. This is why I also scrutinise what is published abroad on Egypt for substance and accuracy. Global views and attitudes about us, even if improperly informed, are a determinant of our country’s popularity as a tourist destination.

So, I am glad to report that I have recently noticed a growing number of foreign articles that testify to the progress being made by the Egyptian tourist industry. I invite readers to take a look at Skift, a travel industry website that offers news and research on different aspects of the tourist industry. A couple of weeks ago, beneath the title “5 Surprising Tourism Growth Stories,” the site wrote that the World Economic Forum (WEF), in its recently released 2024 report, “ranked Albania, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt, and El Salvador as being among the most improved developing nations for enabling travel and tourism development since 2019.” WEF, a think tank famed for its annual meetings in Davos, is a leading resource on various global economic indicators.

As the Skift article relates, WEF found that, in 2023, Egypt hit a tourism record of 14.9 million visitors, a figure that Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism plans to double by 2028. The article goes on to cite some figures that show how serious and well-grounded this ambition is. For example, Egypt added 14,000 new hotel rooms last year, bringing its total capacity up to 220,000. The article also lauded some “signature moves” such as the launch of the Ras Al-Hikma development project on the North Coast and the forthcoming opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, both of which will draw many more tourists to Egypt.

One thing bothers me, however. Many of the important development projects that are generating all this progress seem to be cloaked in silence. Often, we only learn about them from publications abroad, which indicates that more should be done to meet that basic right of citizens: the right to knowledge.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 6 June, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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