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Tuesday, 19 May, 2015, 10 : 00 AM [IST]

'We will launch an online training programme by the first week of June 2015'

From sand to sea, culture to nature, sports to spa; Egypt has everything to offer to an avid traveller. Ismail A Hamid Amer, Egyptian Tourism Counselor, India Office, speaks to Rashmi Pradhan about travellers’ changing perception of Egypt, and explains how the country is a safe travel destination
Q. How are you looking to change the perception that Indian travellers have of Egypt as being an unsafe destination?
A. Indians are very sensitive about security and we want to send across the message that security is well taken care of in Egypt. I would like to substantiate this with some facts and figures. Last year, ten million international tourists visited Egypt. Since the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, an average of over 8.5 million international tourists visit Egypt every year. Although Indian visitor numbers declined from 114,000 in 2010 to 60,000 in 2014, the month-on-month arrivals have increased by 29.8 per cent in January-April 2015 from the corresponding period last year. These numbers show that tourists enjoyed their stay here, and returned home safely.

The Egypt Economic Development Conference 2015, held at Sharm el-Sheikh in mid-March, was attended by world leaders from 83 countries, 2,500 VIP delegates, and 775 companies. Forty-five delegates were from India. The Arab League Summit 2015 was held in Egypt this year.

Recently, Indian superstar, Amitabh Bachchan was on a three-day visit to Egypt to inaugurate the third edition of the ‘India by the Nile’ festival. Mr Bachchan has been reported to have said, “Egypt is safe to travel and I am going to go back and say that in India too. I would love to come back and shoot a film in Egypt.” All these events reinstate the fact that Egypt is a safe destination for travel.

Q. What are the plans of Egypt Tourism for the Indian market this year?
We consider India a promising market and believe that it has huge potential and provides great opportunities. The fiscal year in Egypt is July-June. We have outlined some plans for the upcoming fiscal year, however, nothing has been finalised. In a nutshell, we will be launching a B2B online training programme for Indian travel agents by the first week of June 2015, in association with TravelBiz Monitor. We will be organising FAM trips for travel agents, bloggers, and media persons to Egypt. We are targeting 1,500-2,000 Indian travel agents to promote Egypt and we will keep them updated with information, roadshows, and seminars on the destination.

As far as Egypt Tourism activities are concerned, B2C is also an important platform. It is about creating real demand that matches the opportunities and real value of the destination. We are working with FM channels to make capsules about Egypt and different aspects of Egypt.

Although the marketing budget has not been increased, we are reallocating the budget, and this calendar year we will be more visible in India. Besides Mumbai and Delhi, the potential markets in the country are Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Chennai.

Q. Please elaborate on the tourism offerings of the destination.
. Egypt is a multifaceted destination and even 365 days are not enough to explore the country. Egypt is a medium-haul destination for Indian travellers. October-November and April-May are the best time to visit Egypt. There are activities like hiking, water sports, wind surfing, safari, Nile cruise, and activities at the Red Sea. Egypt is one the five best places for diving. Places like Alexandria, Hurghada, Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh, Luxor, and Marsa Alam are some of the important tourist destinations here.
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