Many American tourists canceled their travel plans to Egypt because of the Israel-Hamas war.
Great Wonders of Egypt, a Cairo-based destination management company specializing in cultural tourism and adventure tourism, said more than half of American tourists had canceled their trips in November and December.
Intrepid Travel, which serves a large number of American travelers, is seeing increased requests for tour cancellations in Egypt through 2023 with most opting to book trips elsewhere, a spokesman said.
FILE: Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa during an interview with Reuters at his office in Cairo, Egypt, February 26, 2023. (REUTERS/Sherif Fahmy)
The decline in the number of foreign tourists, including from America, was acknowledged by Egyptian Tourism Minister Ahmed Issa. However, he emphasized that the decrease was generally for the tourist destination of South Sinai, which borders Gaza.
“So far the impact has been felt most by tourism organizers in the area. “However, overall, total travel reservations there are only 10 percent of total tourism reservations to Egypt,” he explained.
When the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, American requests for cancellation came within two weeks but none came in November and December, said Basem Salah, co-founder and operations director of Great Wonders of Egypt. But as the war escalated, so did cancellations for the following months.
Cruise ship operators Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean recently told investors that there had been a slowdown in bookings and an increase in cancellations in the Middle East region. Both companies have removed Israel from their itineraries.
Tourism is a major source of scarce foreign currency for Egypt, which is expected to generate more than $13 billion this year and reach its target of 15 million visitors.
But credit ratings firm S&P Global warned on Monday that a decline in tourism due to the conflict could cause significant problems for Egypt.
Tourists gather at the Giza Pyramids, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, October 26, 2023. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
The impact will likely also be felt in countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, as travelers postpone or cancel holidays to the Middle East and North Africa.
However, Issa believes that many foreign tourists are still committed to visiting Egypt.
“We heard that when people understand the geopolitical situation and that the situation in our Red Sea resorts is very different from what is happening in conflict areas, we see significant improvements. “In principle, it is now returning to normal levels, especially for reservations from December to February,” he explained.
Egypt is now offering an additional incentive of $500 for every flight that lands in Sharm el-Sheikh, one of South Sinai’s popular resort cities and is working with wholesalers, retailers and airlines to offer discounts.
Sharm el-Sheikh, located about 400 kilometers from Gaza, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The city offers stunning beaches, spectacular underwater life and a variety of attractions and activities that appeal to tourists. (ab/uh)