Tourism in Egypt: reasons behind its deterioration

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Tourism is important to each country, it is considered as the largest source that makes foreign currency flow into the country. Some countries have few tourist resources, such as Tunisia, and they are trying to develop them to attract visitors from all over the world. While there are other countries God has gifted them with the best natural resources or their history have added to their glory, such as Egypt. These countries are trying to preserve them to get the optimal benefit out of their treasures.

In any country, tourism depends on the tourists themselves, who are defined in the work paper that was issued by the Egyptian Center for Economic studies as “visitors who stay at least one night in a collective or private accommodation in the country visited” visiting the country sceneries (qtd. in Tohamy and Swinscoe 8). The reason that makes any country fight to strengthen its tourism is because of its belief that tourism plays an important role in the economy of its nation. Take for example Egypt, which is one of the few countries that possess as both natural beauty and a glorious colorful history.

Both these two elements have put it firmly on the global map of tourism. Egypt with all its magnificent amazing scenery, attractive beaches, museums and ancient historical monuments such as the Pyramids which is considered one of the seven wonders of the world, the best climate all the year round. Yet the government is not investing its maximum effort to attract the maximum number of tourists, and in making the national tourism flourish. The Egyptian government does not know how to protect and preserve its treasurers and to use its available resources.

Moreover, the statistics that are reported by the Egyptian Center for Economic studies state that 5. 7% of the total employment in Egypt is in tourism (qtd. in Tohamy and Swinscoe 15). In addition, a book that was prepared by Al-Magaalis Al-Qawmiyyah Al-Mutakhassissah (Professional National Councils in tourism) in 1980, stated that the expected number of tourists in the year 2000 is 20 million tourists, and that the outcome of the touristic revenue to the country could reach 10 times more than that achieved in 1980, approximately 439 million dollars (AL-SIYAAHAH… 7-20). But, unfortunately, that didn’t materialize, which will be explained later on. However, the opposite happened, as shown in the article that is in the Middle East Economic Digest, it shows that the revenue coming to Egypt from tourism has dropped from 478 million dollars in 1978 to 351 million dollars in 1982 (Thurgood). Moreover. The government admitted that tourism is important.

Since, Minister of Tourism in 1982, Tawfik Abou Ismail, said that “As one of the four main foreign currency earners – to spend their annual leave visiting the Pyramids, diving among some of the world’s finest coral reefs in the Red Sea, or simply soaking up the Mediterranean sun” (qtd. in Thurgood). And Dr. Mamdouh El Beltagie, recent Minister of Tourism, said, “tourism benefits the economy, since more sales, jobs and foreign currency are given or paid by the tourists” (qtd. Tohamy and Swinscoe 27).

It would take me as long as the research paper in length to list the amazing things in Egypt that can attract the tourists of different ages and culture categories, but an article written in Al-Ahram weekly emphasized that “in Ras Mohamed in the Red Sea there are 1000 of living species and 150 type of corals” (“A Thousand and… “). And a reporter in the Geographic Magazine, described his diving experience by saying that “corals are in every place, there is 500 square kilometers plateau that rises from the sea floor, over 1000 meters deep up to about 200 meters below the sea surface.

Dotted over this plateau are numerous unexplored coral reefs which reach to dust below the water surface” (Parsons). That is only one single and small touristic site in Egypt. Thus, can you imagine how Egypt is magnificent. Unfortunately, the Egyptian government does not know how to protect and preserve its sources and make the best use of them. Last summer while at the Pyramids in Giza, I saw a group of boys playing football, and was using the huge granite stones to set their goal. In addition to the playing boys, the tourists themselves were picking up these granite stones to take with them.

Police officers were around simply watching. No one made an effort to stop either the boys or tourists from taking these granite stones. It might look so simple, but the big issue around it is that officials themselves see the destruction and do not act. Last year, I had the chance to work in summer as an intern at the Fulbright Commission. I was assisting a group of Senior Professors who were attending a summer seminar workshop organized by the Fulbright. They had a huge schedule that allowed them to visit and tour various sites of Egypt.

One of the places we visited was the Qayt A Bay Citadel. Our visit was almost a month later to the incident of the stolen golden coins that took place at the citadel. It was very obvious that it could happen very easily. The security system looked weak. Only one police guard was sitting watching 25 television screens in an uncomfortable room. Which is not fair neither to the place nor to the guard, because the environment makes him unable to concentrate, and there is no way that he can watch the 25 screens at the same time.

And recently, while I was reading Al-Ahram, I found a report made on the ancient granite painting that was stolen from a pharonic tomb. Investigations showed that the thieves took a very long time in cutting it from its place and steeling it. That of course is due to the lack of supervision. Moreover, the painting is very valuable to the extent that the monument scientists are not able to price it (Bakry). In addition to other incidents happen, like stolen tombs and pharaonic monuments, paintings from museums, and unfortunately the government takes actions after the occurrence of the problems.

Moreover, tourism in Egypt does not mean historical places and ancient Egypt only. It extends to the magnificent beaches either on the Mediterranean Sea or the Red sea and the wonders of the coral reefs, which have been destroyed, because of the neglecting of the government for them. This is explained by Kaz Dziamka, a Mexican tourist who is a regular visitor and lover to Egypt. He wrote a letter and sent it to Al Ahram Weekly and they had it published.

He said that he returned to Egypt after 13 years and was shocked to see how the reefs were abused, and how a diving instructor was standing on a reef showing off among some of the tourists (qtd. in Belke). This is very ironically nothing when compared to the Survivor’s Colby Donaldson (an actor in a real television show, called Survivor) who gave gifts of corals to tribe members on the show. When that was shown on the television, the Australian government started to investigate whether he took the corals from a protected reef or not, as the law prohibits doing so.

Moreover, there is a case against him and he might pay a fine of $ 53, 000 (Yu et al. ). The Egyptian government very well knows the importance of the coral reefs, I really wonder why do they neglect their protection. An article written in the UNESCO Courier says that corals are the largest source of protein. A healthy one can provide more than 15 tons of fish and seafood every year, which is enough food for 2,500 individual. In simple words, we are not only destroying the coral reefs, but also a source of food for 500 million living individuals in Africa (Denecke).

Needless to mention these corals are not replaceable. They grow at a “very slow rate of 1. 3 to 10. 2 cm per year” (Denecke). Hence, we should take great care as any mistake results in a century of reef development. The Egyptian government should take into consideration how those reefs are suffering high pollution due to major developing constructions on the area. Officials should do their best to preserve and protect these rare species that exist, like making protectorates, as those are part of Egypt’s greats assets in tourism.

We lose our assets we lose our income from tourism. In Egypt there are plenty of sources that are either neglected or not used in an efficient way. In Al Aham Weekly a writer wrote that there are major mistakes done during the process of tourist development, the government “do not retain the main style of natural beauty and build new styles as in new beach resorts, that will definitely preserve the environment and uphold the true principles of development” (Salama).

That is clearly envisioned by the North Coast of Egypt, where a humongous number of villas are built stretching through the coastline. These are built for people who will only utilize them at a maximum of one month per year. I believe, as a better investment we should think of developing or building something that could be visited and seen all the year round. Moreover, there the government does not facilitate to the tourists their needs. Hence, there are “many places which sorely lack several basic services” (Bakr, “Celebrating… ), like transportation, telecommunication network, emergency hospitals on the high way, and Internet services. According to Mohamed Lehita, Head of the Egyptian Travel Agent Association (ETAA), “there were as many as 56 medical centers in Egypt geared towards “health tourists”, but many of these are closed due to urban expansion and pollution, bringing the number down to a mere of 26″ (qtd. in Sami). Moreover, General Mustafa Afifi, Governor of South Sinai, points to the significant “reduction in the number of tourist vessels from 1200 to 320” (qtd. in Bakr, “Saving… “).

I cannot figure why those problems exist if the funds are available through money donated by the UNESCO, EU and the USAID, “but probably they are in a bank account, with some one living off interest” (qtd. in Belke). Lack of good advertisement is one of the reasons that make Egypt unable to attract as many tourists as it should. There are countries, like Tunisia who have few touristy sources when compared to Egypt, but their tourism is better than ours. Many factors play in their success, the most important is that they offer excellent packages with very attractive prices, and they provide the tourists with all the facilities they need.

I made an interview with Ms. Mona Mohie a Sales Manager at American Express Travel Agent, who said “the prices we offer are not the best in the world market, and when tourism flourishes, we even raise the prices more. Hence, our income from tourism declines again” (Mohie). In addition, a survey was done which revealed that more than 140 European travel agents mentioned that the prices in Egypt have increased during the last two years (Al-Siyaahah… 31). Thus, if the Egyptian government wants to recover its shape in tourism, it should deal with these problems first.

No one can deny that Egypt receives a huge number of tourists, but at the same time we have to admit that we never reached the highest percent. This is because of several reasons and the most important reason is terrorism. In the last decade there had been several incidents of murdering which happened to the tourists by the hands of the terrorists. Researches showed that in 1993 Police department made an announcement that 3 tourists were dead in an attack in a Hotel in Cairo, in 1996 29 Greek tourists were killed near the Pyramids (qtd. in Meixler).

Of course, that in addition to few other incidents, but there were two major attacks that had really affected Egypt’s tourism strongly. The first was “in the mid of March a bomb exploded in the Capital Center at the Egyptian museum, housing the world’s most extensive selection of pharaonic treasures” (Gauch). It resulted in the death of 9 German tourists. The second was a real tragedy, took place in 1997. CNN news said that terrorists were disguised as police and kept shooting for almost two hours at the tourists at the Luxor Temple. Sixty were killed and 24 badly injured (“Attack on tourists… “).

Galal Dwaidar, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Akhbar newspaper said, “that tragedy of course made a blow to the tourism movement and destroying the rising Egyptian Economy” (qtd. in Meixler). All of that happened due to the absence of enough security for tourists. As usual, necessary actions were made after problems appear, which was too late, where tourists were already beaten. Shortly after the Luxor attack, several Swiss travel agents said “that they are planning to evacuate all their customers from Egypt”, which made the “tourism industry decreasing revenue by as much as 70 per cent” (“Attack on tourist… “; Gauch). Dr.

Ali El Din Hilal Dessouki, Professor of Political Science, Cairo University says, “that terrorism affected tourism” (qtd. in Gauch). Embassies have requested their citizens not to travel to the Middle East and to take extreme caution when doing so. Another important reason that affected the flow of tourists to Egypt, is that there is no neutralization in the relation between the Arabs and the Israelis, which affected the flow of Israeli tourists. The Middle East Economist clarifies that by saying “the number of Israeli tourists who once flocked to the Red Sea beaches for scuba diving and snorkeling declined by 10. per cent in 1982.

Following the final phase of Israeli withdrawal from Sinai:” (Thurgood). To add to the aforementioned reasons that take part in the deterioration of tourism, we can mention the police system and the ethical behavior of the policemen. When the government created tourism police after the attack incidents it was not very selective in its choice of the professional standard that is required from the police officer on guard. Out of personal experience, during my summer internship at the Fulbright I can say I was personally shocked with the attitude of the police.

On the bus trips police security were always escorting the group. They were vulgar to the tourists and immoral in the way they used to talk and touch the ladies. I thought that this policeman was an exceptional case and the Fulbright reported that incident to the Ministry of Tourism and Internal Affairs requesting to change him. Unfortunately, his replacement was not any better. This left a bad impression on the tourists who were escorted by the Egyptian policemen. Another incident happened, when they were bothered and annoyed in front of their hotel by a group of passers by and some of the bazaar shop owners on the road.

They went inside the hotel seeking the help of the police security of the hotel. Unfortunately, the reply they got from the police officer inside the hotel, was not expected. He said “the outside of the hotel is not my domain, my security location is in the inside only”. Hence, there are internal problems that need to be solved. These problems affect the rate of flow of tourists. The government should take strict measures in solving these problems to avoid their effect on tourism.

On the other hand there is national tourism, which depends on the citizens of the country. For example, personally I love traveling to Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh, nothing is compared to the beauty of their beaches, but the prices offered by local hotels are high. This puts the national tourism in real danger. Ironically tourist groups who arrive by chartered flights directly from Europe are offered lower prices than those offered to the Egyptians. Moreover, for two nights, a family of four would spend almost LE 2000/-.

While if they travel to Turkey or one of the Greek Islands for a whole one week, they would pay LE 4000/- including air tickets and on a half board basis, needless to mention the added value of visiting a new country. I see that this is really ridiculous. In my interview with Ms. Mona Mohie, I asked her why the prices are that high. She said “abroad hotels offer better prices than the local ones, and the opposite also happens, where a group of tourists coming from abroad can have better offers for Hurghada than what is offered to the Egyptians” (Mohie).

Another thing that affect the national tourism is the rate of exchange of a Dollar to an Egyptian Pound, which is almost $ 1/- equals LE 4/-. As a value it is minimal to the tourists but high to the Egyptians. To clarify more, in my interview with Mohamed Saleh, owner of a Diving Center in Sharm El-Sheikh, he said that few Egyptians take the diving course, as it is quite expensive. It ranges around US$ 300/-. That is cheap for any tourist, but in conversion to the local currency it jumps to almost LE 1000/-, which of course is quite high.

Moreover, a research was done comparing between the national tourism in Egypt and the United States. It was found that 19 million go to Washington, DC from within USA, where a very few number of Egyptian travel within Cairo (Zohery). In both countries national tourists go for the same reasons, which is sightseeing of different sites, museums, historical monuments, lovely beaches. But the problem in Egypt is that Egyptians cannot pay the offered rates, which is not very tempting. While in the United States, Americans can, it is affordable.

The Egyptian government has to improve its national tourism and have to put together a plan to attract its national citizens. The Egyptian population is very high and definitely the government can have very high revenue with a good policy. To sum up, expectations based on research and statistical information show that Egypt can have the best tourism industry in the whole world. It has all the basic elements for success. It has God gifted resources on earth, but there are problems, which could be solved if the government follows were to addresses them.

Tagged In :

Get help with your homework

Haven't found the Essay You Want? Get your custom essay sample For Only $13.90/page

Sarah from CollectifbdpHi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out