Egypt's seventh Shopping and Tourism Festival has proven to be a boon for the economy, Eman Youssef
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Customers seeking low prices converged on outlets that participted in the festival photo: Mohamed Moss'ad
Egypt's Shopping and Tourism Festival started on 20 July and aims to provide a business platform for tourism-related industries and more excitement for shoppers and tourists. Ahmed El-Maghrabi, minister of tourism, promised the one-month festival would extend beyond the delights of shopping to include "entertainment and celebrations that create an unforgettable total experience for visitors".
The festival was organised by the Ministry of Tourism in cooperation with the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade and the Federation of Egyptian Industries. Nearly 4,200 outlets are participating, some of which stay open until 10pm, to tie in with the late-night shopping and dinning theme.
Ten governorates, including Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Red Sea, Luxor, and Ismailia are participating in the festival. Some 400 hotels, 266 restaurants and 98 travel companies are competing over the highest discounts and the best service. The shopping festival is poised to boost the national economy by promoting the trade and services sectors, according to Hassan Khedr, minister of supply and internal trade.
Tourism has become one of the major hard currency resources, according to Mohamed Saleh, chairman of the General Organisation for International Exhibitions and Fairs (GOIEF). "The Tourism and Shopping Festival is one of the events that demonstrates organised coordination among the state's establishments in a bid to establish Egypt among the world's elite tourist destinations," Saleh said.
According to El-Maghrabi, there was a 23 per cent increase in the number of tourists, higher than the ministry's projections. He stressed that Egypt needs increased investment in tourism, trade and marketing cultures.
Hurghada has been able to establish itself at the forefront of the travel and tourism industry in the region, according to Saad Abu Reda, governor of the Red Sea. Within the last few years, its fine-tuned promotional machinery has become such a successful industry that the Red Sea governorate now has the envious reputation of being the top Arab tourist destination. He added that the festival has contributed to the rise in the number of tourists.
Prices are often cut as much as 10 to 50 per cent during the month-long shopping festival. The festival brought in high figures across key tourism indicators, such as visitor numbers, hotel revenues and retail growth, according to El-Maghrabi. "Egypt's Shopping Festival in particular, has surpassed local, regional and international expectations by attracting an international clientele from diverse regions in the world," Saleh said.
The festival was pitched to succeed. "Our shop achieved a 27 per cent increase in profits over last year," said Mohamed Badr, a garment shop owner. Badr added that the coordination with school holidays substantially contributed to the increase in the number of shoppers.
A plethora of bargains and discounts is available at the festival. Wael Zaki, a Hotels and Tourism Academy graduate, said he prefers to buy his goods from outlets that participate in the festival. "I know where the discounts are available and where I may be eligible for a prize." The festival is also equipped with multiple telephone lines to guide visitors 24 hours a day.