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A man with a tourism plan

Posted 23 March 2018 · Add Comment

EgyptAir Holding Company’s tourist arm – Karnak – is working hard to put the country firmly back on the visitor map. Gamal ElGazzar, VP tourism, explains the steps it needs to take.

People need to understand that Egypt is not a field of war, said Gamal ElGazzar, VP tourism, Karnak. “If it was, why would I live here with my family, along with 95 million other Egyptians?”
Of course, ElGazzar was referring to the country’s problems of the last few years that have seen a slump in tourism. However, he pointed out, 2017 had already seen that beginning to change.
“Tourist figures jumped to 10 million in 2017, up 30% compared to 2016,” said ElGazzar. “I believe we should be seeing 60 million visitors a year in the next 10 years – but we have a lot of homework to do before that happens.”
Karnak, which was established in 1955, arranges tours and packages both inside and outside Egypt, as well as Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.
ElGazzar has only been at the helm since July, but he has ambitious plans to make Egypt a top tourism destination once again.
“Since July, along with EgyptAir Holding, we have started a new plan to offer a good product, restructuring the standards of tourism operators and moving towards digital marketing,” said ElGazzar. “We are currently implementing an online travel agency, which will help potential visitors easily fulfil a trip here.”
Egypt is famous for its ancient heritage, with two of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the Great Pyramid at Giza and the Lighthouse at Alexandria – located there.
Over the years, people have come in their droves to visit the country’s famous sites.
Dating back to the pharaohs, millennia-old monuments sit along the famous Nile River Valley, including the pyramids and Great Sphinx, as well as Luxor’s hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple and Valley of the Kings tombs.
Cairo is home to Ottoman landmarks like the Muhammad Ali Mosque and the Egyptian Museum, as well as its Coptic Christian heritage sites.
Then there is the Red Sea – well-known for its diving.
However, ElGazzar said there is “so much more to see and do”.
“Around 70% of people want to see the pyramids and the sphinx, and 35% the light and sound show at the pyramids,” said ElGazzar.
“However, we also have places that not many people know about, such as the west of Egypt, home to the stunning oasis towns of Siwa, Dakhla, and Kharga.
“The beaches and mountains in Sinai are beautiful and in the eastern desert the nature is fantastic.
“There are a lot of monuments and landmarks that need to be highlighted and I am working on it. We want to promote the delights outside of just the pyramids.”
Karnak is working closing with the government to achieve its tourism potential.
“We are working on projects under the umbrella of the government, including focusing on digital marketing,” said ElGazzar.’
“In the last two years, Cairo has seen 2,000 hotel rooms added, as well as four hotels that have been renovated. We are also working with the government on a big project to be ready in the next 10 years to receive up to 30 millions visitors. We believe Egypt will be a booming tourist destination by then.”
Currently, Egypt’s main tourists come from Arabian countries, followed by North Africa and Europe. The country also caters well for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) visitors and is thought of as a business hub for North Africa.
“We also have tourism programmes for business travellers,” said ElGazzar. “Even if you only have eight hours to spare, you can choose a short tourist option, or tailor-make your own. We have a 24-hour transit office at Cairo International Airport to meet, assist and arrange quick tours.”
Another special project Karnak and the government are looking into is educational tours.
“We want to sponsor educational trips, especially for the departments that teach Egyptology – the theoretical study is there but now it need the practical side and we would like to put that in place with sponsors,” said ElGazzar.
“Egypt is one of the oldest civilisations known to man – it is simply a must-see destination.”
 

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