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Egypt makes a comeback
S Puvaneswary and Paige Lee Pei Qi, reporting from IT&CMA, Bangkok, October 2, 2014

EGYPT is on a mission to convince Asian markets that the destination is safe to visit, with emphasis on attracting MICE from India, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines.

Adel El Masry, director of Egyptian Tourism Office (ETO), said there would be a 25 per cent growth in marketing budget for key Asian markets in 2014, followed by a further 20-25 per cent increase in 2015.

According to Adel, in 2010, Egypt attracted 14.7 million tourists worldwide but numbers dropped substantially after the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Last year, the destination attracted 11.7 million tourists.

He said: “(In September), we started a campaign in India targeted at tour operators specialising in MICE, corporates in India, and business magazines and newspapers to look at MICE facilities in Cairo, Luxor, Alexandria and Sharm El-Sheikh. Besides showcasing the facilities, we also wish to show invited guests that the destination is safe.”

A similar campaign will be launched in Malaysia in November, then extended to Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore in 2015.

In addition, ETO will work with travel agency associations in Malaysia, India and Thailand to invite their members to visit the destination over the next year or so.

In early 2015, ETO will organise B2B roadshows in Bangkok, Singapore, India (Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmadabad and Hyderabad) and Kuala Lumpur for leisure and MICE. The roadshows will incorporate workshops.

However, despite the roll-out of Egypt’s new campaign, several buyers at IT&CMA said they are still apprehensive about sending groups to the destination.

Augustine Barretto, business associate of Mumbai-based Mercury Travels, said: “Indians are generally very scared to tread into any country that may have conflict potential, and safety is our number one priority. A lot is at stake here because we are talking about endangering the life of the whole company.

“Egypt used to be one of the top destinations but over the past five years, interest to go there has dropped to a complete zero. Since the political tension, Egypt has completely fell off the map for our corporates.”

Likewise, Shravan Bhalla, propreitor of High Flyer in New Delhi, which specialises in luxury corporate travel, said: “It will still take some time for us to warm up to the idea of going back to Egypt."

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