Friday, December 19, 2008

Tourism: Attention turns to virgin travel territory

The Financial Times (Alex Dziadosz)

Another article in the Egypt Report from the Financial Times (mentioned in the post above).

The vendors of Cairo’s Khan el-Khalily bazaar provide a colourful barometer of international wealth. The richer a country is, the more fluently touts bark its language at passers-by; in recent years, Egyptian-accented Mandarin and Russian have come into style.

The trend is illustrative. A country’s tourism industry depends largely on who can afford to travel. In Egypt, where tourism employs more than 12 per cent of the workforce, recessions in Germany, Italy and the UK – three of the country’s four biggest sources of tourists – have sparked plenty of worry.

So far, there have been no big shocks. Egypt will draw 13m visitors by the end of this year, 20 per cent more than in 2007, according to Zoheir Garana, the minister of tourism.

“We’re still okay for year-end to 2008,” he says. “We assume there will be a slowdown for the first two quarters of 2009.”

How steep the downturn will be is anybody’s guess. The state stopped issuing monthly arrival figures late last year, forcing analysts to make predictions based on limited data. Beltone Financial, a Cairo-based investment bank, estimates tourism will bring in about $11.5bn this fiscal year, up from $10.8bn last year. EFG-Hermes, a competing investment bank, predicts the sector will stop growing this fiscal year and will shrink by about 8 per cent next year.

See the above page for the rest of the story. There's lots of interesting information in this article. I hadn't realized, for example, that the Egyptian state had stopped issuing monthly arrival figures, or that the predicted downturn in tourism had resulted in a freezing of a planned rise in ticket and other prices. The search for new areas within Egypt to exploit and the development of new markets has been reported over the last few years but some of that information is brought together quite well here.

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