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Reviving Sharm El-Sheikh
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 14 - 09 - 2017

The Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh has been enduring losses as a result of the reduction in the numbers of tourists, especially from the Russian and British markets. In response, the Ministry of Tourism has embarked on a campaign to promote the destination as a treasure trove for tourists from across the world.
Some $10 million has been allocated to initiate the promotional campaign for the next six months.
“Sharm El-Sheikh saw 70 per cent hotel occupancy rates over the past few weeks because it was the Eid Al-Adha vacation. But during the months of June and July, hotel occupancy rates stood at 42 per cent. It is still unclear how this beautiful city will fare during the winter season,” Hisham Ali, head of the South Sinai Investors Association, said.
Hani Shukri, director of JWT, the company assigned the task of promoting Sharm El-Sheikh, said the problem was that “the Red Sea resort has always depended heavily on tourists from Russia and Britain. When a ban was imposed in these countries on travel to Egypt, Sharm El-Sheikh was hit more than any other city in Egypt.”
Ali, Hisham Al-Demiri, the head of the Tourism Development Authority, the minister of tourism, the South Sinai governor and businessmen interested in investing in South Sinai held a meeting two weeks ago to look into the campaign.
It targets promoting the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in new markets and luring Russian and British tourists back to it, Ali said, who noted that “German tourists favour Hurghada.” This year, the Germans ranked first in the list of European tourists visiting Egypt.
In the meeting, Al-Demiri approved the $10 million for the campaign, deciding that JWT should promote the city as a top-notch tourist destination. “The method depends on increasing advertisements on buses and television,” Ali commented.
Shukri said that his company had presented the campaign plan to investors and tour operators from different countries, then deciding the most effective means to publicise the tourist destination.
“Each country's means are different. Europeans are more attracted by online advertisements. In India, outdoor and online ads are more appealing. Television is the strongest means of advertisement in Germany. But this doesn't mean that in each of these countries other methods of promotion will not also be used,” he said.
“We listened to the demands of tour operators, and they agreed to our strategy. We already have promotional videos of Sharm El-Sheikh, and the campaign will be launched in each country in sync with the start of the travel season,” Shukri said.
Thanks to the international conventions hosted in Sharm El-Sheikh, the Red Sea city is already witnessing a revival in tourism, Al-Demiri said. “This week Sharm El-Sheikh hosted an economic conference for central banks attended by 3,000 people from different countries,” he added.
From 3 to 10 October an international youth summit will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh as a continuation of youth forums held by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. More than 10,000 people are expected to turn up at the event, including a large portion of the cabinet.
“Such conferences are important tools for increasing tourism to Egypt,” Al-Demiri said. “It is also thanks to the influx of Arab tourists to Sharm El-Sheikh that we see high occupancy rates at hotels, in addition to the moderate prices we offer compared to other tourist destinations in the region.”
JWT was chosen in 2015 to promote tourism to Egypt through a campaign with an overall budget of $68 million divided over three years. The campaign's strategy depends on media campaigns in 27 markets using all available media, with a focus on digital advertising.
Public relations campaigns in 19 markets are planned to keep Egypt fresh in the minds of tourists.
After two years of campaigning, a total of $32 million had been spent, an average of $16 million annually. Compared to 2016, the first seven months of 2017 witnessed a 52 per cent increase in tourist numbers, Shukri stated.

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