By Morgan Winsor
Egypt has signed a $68 million contract with New York advertising agency J. Walter Thompson Co. to help revive the Arab nation’s tourism industry. Over the next three years, the company will run a public relations campaign in 27 markets around the world to promote Egypt as a prime tourist destination and improve the view of the country’s security situation, Al-Monitor reported Wednesday.
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, which announced the three-year agreement Aug. 23 in local news, has been handling promotion for the country since the outbreak of the revolution in January 2009, which dealt a blow to Egyptian tourism. The June terror attack in Sousse, Tunisia, has also negatively impacted Egypt’s tourism industry. Egypt has historically been one of the most stable countries in the Middle East and the Arab nation boasts the Pyramids of Giza, ancient temples, museums and other tourist attractions. But an increase in terrorist attacks associated with the Arab world in recent years has affected Egypt’s image.
“Improving Egypt’s tourism sector depends on improving the view of the country’s domestic situation, as many countries believe that Egypt has no security or stability for the time being,” Elhamy el-Zayat, chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, told Al-Monitor Wednesday. “The biggest challenge for Egypt is to shift this perspective, especially since Egypt is the heart of the Arab world, which has now become a source of news of violence in the world.”
J. Walter Thompson Co., or JWT, plans to take advantage of social media and emphasize the difference between North and South Sinai. The Egyptian government in July extended by three months a state of emergency imposed on parts of North Sinai after Islamist militants ramped up attacks in the peninsula bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal, Reuters reported. South Sinai, however, has several tourist cities including Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba, Dahab and El-Tor.
“Many foreigners are under the impression that Sinai is a battlefield and not safe to visit,” Amal al-Masri, chief strategy officer for JWT-Middle East Africa, told Al-Monitor Wednesday.
With help from the international advertising campaign, Egypt aims to attract between 11 million and 11.5 million tourists and achieve profits of $9 billion to $9.5 billion this year. Egyptian Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy has said that Egypt seeks to attract 20 million tourists by 2020. Since last year, the North African nation’s tourism revenues have increased by 3.1 percent and the number of tourists has risen by 8.2 percent in the first half of 2015.
The Egyptian Tourism Federation is planning promotional campaigns during October and November in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South American countries including Brazil, Chile, Peru and Argentina.
“It is possible to achieve the goal of 20 million tourists, but reaching the estimated revenues of $26 billion is difficult in light of the prices at which the Egyptian tourism product is offered,” Zayat told Al-Monitor in May. “The level of tourism services must be improved, and their prices must be increased. We should focus on attracting tourists who are interested in classic cultural tourism since cultural tourists are the ones who spend the most.”