Egypt seeks to attract 3 million Chinese tourists annually by 2028 as part of the country’s ambitious strategy to increase its share in the Chinese tourism market, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Issa said on Sunday.
Egypt currently receives between 4,000 and 5,000 Chinese tourists per week. “That is a good number compared to previous records, but I think we can do much more,” the minister told Xinhua in an interview.
Issa said that in order to host an increasing number of Chinese visitors, more flights and hotel rooms are required.
“We welcome Chinese hotel owners and investors to invest in Egypt, and we welcome Chinese tour operators to organize trips to Egypt,” he said.
Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, China had about 150 million outbound tourists in 2019. According to Issa, since Egypt began to record the number of foreign tourists in 2000, the number of Chinese visitors has never exceeded 300,000 in a single year.
Issa added that further growth of Chinese tourists in Egypt can be achieved through cooperation between the Egyptian tourism ministry and its Chinese counterpart, as well as with Chinese investors and tour operators.
The Egyptian minister said he was glad with the growth of the number of Chinese tourists in Egypt since the COVID restrictions were lifted, “but it is still a tenth of where it needs to be, where it can be, and where it should be,” he said.
“We have several programs that the Chinese tour operators and the Chinese airlines can benefit from,” he said, noting Egypt offers an incentive program for airlines, as well as “a co-marketing program for Chinese tour operators that have promotion strategies of Egyptian products to the Chinese tourists.”
According to the official, Egypt plans to provide Chinese tourism product retailers and media with familiarization trips to Egypt in order to help them learn about the Egyptian culture, and the north African country is about to announce “a whole new set of incentives for hotel investors at large.”
The minister said he was looking forward to visiting China in early 2024 to discuss further cooperation with the Chinese side.
“I hope I’ll be able to visit China very soon and meet with my friend the minister of culture and tourism in China and talk to Chinese hotel investors, tour operators and airlines to give them a glimpse of the great returns that they may get in Egypt,” he said.
Tourism is one of the key industries in Egypt, accounting for around 12 percent of its gross domestic products (GDP).
Official data shows the tourist number in Egypt dropped from over 13 million in 2019 to around 3.7 million in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which gradually recovered to about 8 million in 2021 and further flourished in 2022 to hit 11.7 million.
Worrying about the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict’s effect on the tourism sector in Egypt, Issa said his ministry sent reassurance letters to 300 important tour operators worldwide, which had a significant role in lessening the conflict’s effect on Egypt’s tourism industry.
The letters assured the operators that Egypt would be safe as a tourist destination and highlighted the incentives Egypt would offer to its travel agency partners worldwide.
As a result, the number of tourists in Egypt in October was 8 percent higher than that of the same period last year, second only to the record October number of 1.45 million tourists in 2010, according to the minister.
“It is showing that we should be able, or at least as close as possible, to achieve our objective of 15 million tourists for this year, which is going to be a more than 30-percent growth compared to 2022,” the minister said, noting that Egypt targets to attract 30 million tourists annually by 2028.