Al-Ahram Weekly Online   5 - 11 January 2012
Issue No. 1079
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Showcasing Egypt

A cordial protocol marking Egypt's long friendship with Germany was signed in the lap of history

"You will see a new Egypt once the dust settles," is how Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour concluded his speech. In a setting fit for a tale from One Thousand and One Nights, a white tent stood tall in the heart of Sahara City with the Pyramids as a backdrop. Soft lighting, palm trees brought especially for the occasion and white roses centrepieces on chiffon dressed cocktail tables set the ambiance for signing Egypt as a country partner in the Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB), Amira El-Naqeeb was there.

ITB is the world's leading travel trade show in Berlin. from the sventh till the eleventh March 2012.

"This is a milestone between Egypt and Germany, and Egypt and Europe," declared Abdel-Nour.

Christian Goke, chief operating officer of Messe Berlin, explained the importance of Egypt's presence in the ITB, "as a great opportunity to showcase the diversity in Egyptian touristic products, as well as an ample opportunity to increase the numbers of German tourists flying to Egypt." According to Goke, 60,000 visitors attend the ITB every year with some 120 ministers of tourism expected this year.

Some of the questions from the foreign media focussed on the unstable political situation in Egypt and how it would affect tourism, such as the future of tourism in Egypt if the Muslim Brotherhood ruled the country. Abdel-Nour said that beach, sun and fun tourism constitutes 83 per cent of tourism in Egypt and the world, and even in Muslim states such as Malaysia and Turkey most tourists go there for the beaches.

He also pointed out that a large percentage of the Egyptian workforce is in the tourism sector and numerous industries that cater for this sector, therefore tourism is considered the backbone of the Egyptian economy and no government can do without it. "Rest assured that whatever government is in power in Egypt, it will support the tourism sector," Abdel-Nour concluded.

Jurgen Buchy, president of the German Travel Association (DRV), concurred that the efforts exerted by Egypt to regain its stability are highly appreciated, and that around three million German tourists visit Egypt every year because Egyptian offers are good value for money. "I'm optimistic that the uniqueness of the Egyptian touristic product will prevail," Buchy stated.

A five-minute film was screened as a sneak peak about the Egyptian Tourism Authority (ETA) preparations for the ITB. It showcased some of the most breathtaking locations in Egypt, like a collage of Egypt's array of tastes, smells and textures woven together homogenously. "Egypt is changing and we are part of this change; we are writing history every day, surprising the world and ourselves sometimes," articulated Amr El-Ezabi, head of the ETA. "The ITB is a bridge and a momentous platform through which Egypt's uniqueness can prevail and inspire."

By Amira El-Naqeeb

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