Tourism officials worry about hotel occupancy, decline in tourism sector

Experts and officials warned of the collapse of the tourism sector, in spite of the recovery the sector has witnessed during the Easter season, due to the decline in revenues and the change in the type of tourists visiting Egypt during that period.

Osama al-Ashry, undersecretary of the Tourism Ministry and supervisor of the hotel sector, said the occupancy rates in Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada reached 60 percent. He added only 25 percent of the floating hotels are working, and that occupancy rates do not exceed three percent. Ashry said this means 75 percent of floating hotels have stopped working.

He explained that the hotel sector is currently surveying the hotels and recording their status, especially since the Tourism Ministry is hoping to reinvigorate the Nile cruise industry, which will require vessel maintenance to guarantee the safety of tourists.

Ahmed Balbaa, chairman of the tourism committee of the Egyptian Business Association, said he feared the impact of the decline in hotel sector revenues on tourism in general, noting that despite expectations of higher rates of occupancy during the Spring — to between 60 and 70 percent — the current occupancy rise is actually the result of a 40 to 50 percent price reduction.

Balbaa said that the low prices would lead to a different kind of tourist, who would spend less than the tourists the country is used to seeing.  

Balbaa added that that this, in turn, would mean lower revenues during already difficult circumstances, as the state has not yet responded to the tourism sector’s demands for a crisis fund and that tourism workers be paid. Balbaa stressed that workers in the tourist sector have not received salaries since February.

He added that maintenance at hotels would be affected due to low income rates, and that employees would be affected as well.

Major General Tariq Saad, head of the Tourism Development Authority, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that there has been progress in tourism development projects, although they are coming along slowly. Saad said that improving the situation was closely related to security and stability, adding that there was a direct correlation between the success of projects and political stability.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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