Tourism is classified as leading global economic force. The earnings and GDP contribution emerging from tourism activities makes it a topic of global importance. For several years, Egypt has been a leading tourist destination in Africa and also in other parts of the world. The earnings from tourism activities contribute immensely to the gross national product of the country. It is worth noting that the well-being of the Egyptian economy largely depends on a good year of tourism. Most of the tourism activities in Egypt are reliant on the ancient monuments and cultural events (MacDonald & Rice, 2010). Nevertheless, the country has been in relentless efforts to make sure that there is the creation of modern tourist attractions such as modern resorts and golf courses. The combinations of the new and traditional tourists’ attractions sites have contributed immensely to the growth of the tourism sector in Egypt.
Apart from the numerous tourists’ attractions sites, the tourism industry in Egypt has also thrived as a result of the proximity and favorable geographical location of the country. It is interesting to note that Egypt is located in North Africa where it borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Libya and Gaza strip. Its strategic location has been instrumental in the growth of the tourism sector in the country. Tourists from all over the world have been able to access the different tourist attractions in Egypt due to its accessibility through air and water navigation. Nevertheless, there have been numerous challenges to the tourism sector in the country (International Business Publications, 2007). It is, therefore, essential for the government of Egypt and the stakeholders to put in place policies that will promote and enhance tourism in the region. This chapter will have an in-depth analysis of tourism industry in Egypt and offer recommendations that can lead to enhanced earnings from the tourism sector.
As aforementioned, Egypt has been a leading tourist destination for several years. Having a total land area of approximately 995,450sq.kms, the country is the most populous in the Arab world and the second most populous country in Africa. The populous country is also known to hold people of diverse cultural and social beliefs. It is imperative to point out that the country has people with different backgrounds such as Turkey, Arab, Nubian, Africa, European, ancient Egyptians and Eastern Europeans among others (Hara, 2008). The diverse communities living in Egypt has brought about cultural diversity that to a great extent has promoted tourism in the area. With this in mind, cultural tourism contributes significantly to the tourism basket in Egypt. For instance, Egyptians are known to hold strong cultural practices that are part of tourist attraction. The great lengths Egyptians went in preserving the bodies of the dead, burial sites and the 70 days it takes to preserve a body for decent burial are some of the cultural practices that form tourist attraction.
Heritage tourism is also popular in Egypt. For so many years, Egypt has been known for the pyramids of Giza, the pharaohs, beautiful mosques and traditional monuments. Also, the country enjoys ancient mysteries of Luxor and Aswan in the Upper Egypt all of which have contributed significantly towards the tourism development in the area (International Business Publications, 2007). Egypt is also known as a home of several Islamic art and architecture which have also contributed to the growth of the tourism sector in the country. Besides the traditional tourists’ attractions sites, the country also enjoys modern tourist attractions. For example, the beautiful and inexpensive beaches on the red sea offer an excellent source entertainment to visitors. Tourists enjoy scuba diving in these beaches as they get a clear view of the Egypt’s red sea coral reefs (Agarwal & Shaw, 2007). The spectacular oasis in the Egyptian deserts also offers another site where tourists enjoy both cold and hot water bath from water springs.
European tourism is the most common form of tourism in Egypt. Most of the Europeans are known to spend their vacations in Egypt where they enjoy the cultural, heritage and modern tourists’ attractions sites in the region. The most common places where these Europeans are fond of visiting includes; Hurghada, Sharm-el-Sheikh, and Safaga among others. Also, innovations of the Paranoiac ancient artifacts have been a unique appeal to Egypt as well as its inimitable religious and cultural testimonials that have been a great source of tourism motivation (Elmers, 2013). Most of the Europeans tourists entering Egypt are mainly of British origin, and they seem to enjoy the cultural tourism present in the region.
As aforementioned, the Britons forms a significant part of the cultural tourism practiced in Europe. It is interesting to point out that cultural tourism looked fashionable and elite tourism in the 19th century. During the 1850s the country registered 20,000 tourists annually. This figure had risen to 50,000 visitors annually by 1914. Nevertheless, the subsequent years recorded a significant decline in the number of European tourists visiting Egypt every year. It is, however, prudent to note that the tourism sector also improved significantly between 1980 and 2010 (Sattin, 2011). The increase in the number of British tourists in Egypt can be explained by the historical invasion of Egypt by Napoleon in 1799. The invasion resulted in the importation of scientists and scholars who had played a significant role in the study and report on ancient Egyptian monuments. Their work had spread widely in Europe, and when the French rule came to an end, the Britons took a special interest in the Egyptian culture and consequently an increase in cultural tourism Egypt.
Besides the numerous cultural attractions, the increase in European tourism was also as a result of guaranteed safety to the visiting guests. It is interesting to acknowledge the significant role played by Muhammad Ali, in ensuring safety, improved and modernized Egyptian economy. He knew that security was paramount for successive cultural tourism (Agarwal & Shaw, 2007). There were also improved transport systems that provided smooth movements for tourists between different destinations. Steam technology was live in Egypt. Trains and steamships made it easy for travelers to commute between the various destinations. The steam technology did not only provide fast means of transport but also ensured cheaper transport mode.
Nevertheless, the second half of the 19th century marked a decline in the number of European tourists practicing cultural tourism. From this time onwards, most of the European tourists visiting Egypt were either for pleasure and health rather than on cultural attainments. Although there was still a good number attending to see ancient monuments and study Egyptian culture, most of them were after pleasure. The decline in British control, as witnessed during the Suez crisis, marked a shift in cultural tourism. This was the beginning of the democratized tourism where most of the European population reduced the urge for cultural tourism and got inclined to pleasure travel (International Business Publications, 2007). Consequently, the Egyptian authorities and policy makers were involved in the introduction of modern attraction sites such as resorts that offered leisure tourism. The need for modern tourist attractions has led to marvelous development along the Egyptian coast. Besides the cheap beaches, the Egyptians have also invested heavily in the construction of modern resorts, hotels, and other modern sites (Ibrahim & Ibrahim, 2003). For instance, the floating hotels found in the Mediterranean Sea are a good indication of the developments in the Egyptian tourism sector.
The tourism industry continues to be a significant part of the country’s GDP. Nevertheless, the industry has been facing a great number of challenges which has consequently brought about a significant decline in the annual number of tourists visiting the country. Although Egypt is known to have a stable economy, it is necessary to ensure that the contribution from the industry is of great significance (Hara, 2008). The current downward trend in the sector is worrying and makes it inevitable to be proactive in ensuring the industry gets back on track. Terrorism threat, lack of government planning, lack of average accommodation and street disorders are some of the leading factors that have resulted in the massive decline in the tourism industry. To start with, terrorism has become a major problem not only in Egypt but the world as a whole. Most of the tourists are from different parts of the world and are mainly concerned with their personal security. Such people will always avoid to traveling to terrorism hotspots such as Egypt. Terrorism has contributed immensely to the decline in the number of tourists visiting the country every year. Other security concerns such as purse-snatching and other petty crimes have also led to a decline in the number of tourists in Egypt.
Further on, Egypt has been obsessed with the high number of tourists that have been visiting the country in the past. Consequently, it has been difficult to control and manage the vast number of people in the streets thus becoming another issue of concern (MacDonald & Rice, 2010). It is paramount to note that overcrowding will not only ruin the resources being conserved but will also spoil the tourist’s experience. The congestion in streets and the tourist’s attractions sites can be as a result of poor planning. In the past, it has been reported that the stones from the pyramids have been stolen in the past thus reducing its original height and this could have adversely affected the attractiveness of the site.
It is crystal clear that the tourism industry in Egypt is on a downward trend. It is also evident that the tourism sector is of paramount importance to the Egyptian economy. With this in mind, it is, therefore, inevitable ensuring that there are measures put in place to restore the tourism industry in its rightful place (Elmers, 2013). As aforementioned, the Egyptian economy will largely depend on the number of tourists visiting the country every year. To start with, an intensive advertisement is recommended to ensure that there is a global awareness on the numerous tourists’ attractions sites in the country (International Business Publications, 2007). It is worth noting that there are several people in the world have little or no information on the existence of significant sites such as the pyramids. With intensive advertising, the number of individuals with such knowledge will increase and consequently lead to an influx of tourists in Egypt.
Another important recommendation that will lead to improvement in the tourism industry is improved security. As aforementioned, many people will avoid visiting places where their safety is compromised. Although terrorism is an issue of global concern, it is essential for the Egyptian authorities to ensure that there are internal mechanisms that reduce the instances of terrorism in the region (Sattin, 2011). Enhanced security in all the entry and exit points, resorts, and other terror target areas will be essential in assuring tourists of their safety. On the same note, the Egyptian authorities should ensure that other petty crimes such as purse snatching, verbal and sexual abuse are restrained in the tourists’ attractions sites.
Easier accessibility to the country and the tourist attractions sites will also be critical for an improved tourism sector in Egypt. This will only be realistic if there are better transport and accommodation facilities in the region (Ibrahim & Ibrahim, 2003). For instance, the Egyptians must ensure that their waterways and airways are safe and accommodative for international arrivals. Also, the travels must be cheap and readily available to ensure that the involved people can afford. This will be instrumental in opening the Egypt’s tourism to the foreign world (Agarwal & Shaw, 2007). Roads and railway systems in the country must also be improved to ensure easier connections from one place to another. On the same note, it is also wise to build accommodations near the attractions sites to avoid unnecessary travels.
Proper government planning is another essential consideration for an improved tourism sector in Egypt. As aforementioned, there are street congestions and overcrowding in the sites that not only is dangerous to the preservation of the sites but are also damaging to the visitors’ experience. It is therefore recommended that the government should engage in a planning exercise that will reduce congestions on the roads as well as on these sites (Hara, 2008). It is also vital for the government to ensure that there are measures that will lead to the preservation of culture and heritage that has continuously been the leading source of tourism activities in the region (International Business Publications, 2007). In essence, it should be the prerogative of the Egyptian government to ensure there are more services and growth in the tourism industry that will translate into a developed economy.
In conclusion, tourism is one of the most significant global economic activities. It is considered as an important event to people, not only due to the economic gains but also for the leisure and relaxation that comes along (International Business Publications, 2007). Nevertheless, the activity has been touted to have great importance to major world economies and more so to the Egypt’s economy. Over the years, Egypt has enjoyed numerous tourism activities simply due to its strategic location as well as the various attraction sites in the region (Ibrahim & Ibrahim, 2003). The cultural, religious and ancient monuments and architecture in the region has offered great tourist attractions sites that have put Egypt on the global tourism map. It is, however, prudent to point out that the tourism industry in the country is on the verge of collapse if stringent proactive measures are not in place to correct the situation. In fact, visitors expect to have real time and experiences while in excursion and will snub such experiences if they don’t achieve their objectives (Elmers, 2013). It is on this note that there are various recommendations that ought to be in place to improve tourists’ impressions and experiences. Intensive advertisement, enhanced security, and improved customer experience will be instrumental to tourism development in Egypt. Sustainable tourism will translate to better economic gains for the country.
Agarwal, s. & Shaw, G. (2007). Managing coastal tourism resorts (1st ed.). Clevedon: Channel View Publications.
Elmers, S. (2013). Egypt – impacts & concerns, sustainability & ecotourism, industry (1st ed.). [Place of publication not identified]: Grin Verlag.
Hara, T. (2008). Quantitative tourism industry analysis (1st ed.). Amsterdam ; London: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Ibrahim, F. & Ibrahim, B. (2003). Egypt (1st ed.). London: I.B. Tauris.
International Business Publications, U. (2007). Egypt business intelligence report (1st ed.). [Place of publication not identified]: Intl Business Pubns Usa.
MacDonald, S. & Rice, M. (2010). Consuming ancient Egypt (1st ed.). Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, Inc.
Sattin, A. (2011). Lifting the Veil: Two Centuries of Travellers, Traders and Tourists in Egypt (1st ed.). I.B. Tauris.
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