Egypt discusses incentives to restore air capacity

Egypt discusses incentives to restore air capacityBy Ian Taylor

Image via ShutterstockEgyptian tourism minister Hisham Zaazou met leading UK tour operators in London yesterday to brief them on the situation in the country and agree incentive measures aimed at restoring capacity.Egypt has lost one-third of its air capacity from the UK since July last year when protests and military action to overthrow president Morsi led to several massacres of protestors and the Foreign Office advised against travel to all but the Red Sea resorts.

The minister reported Egypt still drew almost one million UK visitors last year and he is aiming to attract at least 1.1 million this year following the relaxation of Foreign Office advice in November.

Direct flights from London to Luxor will resume next week when Egyptair reinstates weekly services from Heathrow. Flights depart on Monday from February 17.

Zaazou told Travel Weekly: “We had a bad year in 2013. We lost about one-third of capacity and it’s having a negative effect. But there is demand.”

He said the ministry has an enlarged budget for social media and internet marketing this year and will support “any out-of-the-box ideas” from the industry.

Zaazou met leading representatives of tour operators including Thomas Cook, Tui Travel and Monarch Group yesterday and told them: “We are moving into a new phase. Egypt has changed. It is not going back to what it was.”

He insisted: “There is nothing to fear in Cairo.” But he added: “I can’t bang my head against a wall. Tourism is about perception.”

The tourism authority is poised to launch a campaign emphasising The Romantic Nile and Red Sea Riviera as distinct parts of the country.

The country recorded 9.5 million overseas visitors in total last year despite the violent upheaval of July and August, just two million below the number in 2012. But it was some way below the best-ever year of 2010 when Egypt welcomed 14.7 million visitors.

Egypt has been at the forefront of the Arab Spring since early 2011 when millions of people took part in the overthrowing of president Mubarak.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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