Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1368, (9 - 15 November 2017)
Tuesday,21 November, 2017
Issue 1368, (9 - 15 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Youthful promotion

Sun, sea and smiling youth were the face of Sharm El-Sheikh during the first World Youth conference, writes Reem Leila

Youthful promotion
Youthful promotion

It has been a while since Sharm El-Sheikh hosted an event as big as the World Youth Forum (WYF). With 3,000 delegates from 113 countries the forum meant the city was bursting with tourists and local businesses were happy. Business had been slow in the city for the past couple of years, except for the odd conference.

The percentage of hotel occupancy has increased significantly, says Hani Mansour, an employee at one of Sharm El-Sheikh’s many hotels.

“There could not be any better marketing [for Sharm El-Sheikh],” South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda was quoted as saying.

The forum will help boost international tourism to Egypt by reassuring potential visitors, stated a press release issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

“The forum will contribute directly to the revitalisation of tourism and indicates that Egypt is a safe tourist destination,” read the release.

 

Sharm El-Sheikh has put on its best face for visitors. A giant dome has been constructed and new green areas created. A theatre for the inauguration ceremony was set up overlooking the sea at Nabq Bay, 20 minutes’ drive from Sharm International Airport.

Café owner Abu Rami was happy with the increased number of visitors. The atmosphere, he said, reminded him of the old days, before the crash of a Russian plane in Sinai in October 2015 led to a ban on all Russian flights to Egypt, Sharm El-Sheikh’s main market for oversea visitors.

“We need similar events throughout the year,” he said.

Sharm El-Sheikh is positioning itself as a major venue for conferences, says Fouda. In 2014 the city was the venue for the Egypt International Economic Conference. In 2016 it held a major conference to mark the 150th anniversary of Egypt’s parliament and between 7 and 9 December will host the Africa 2017 Forum.

While many in the city are happy with the temporary improvement they know that after “the forum ends occupancy rate will go down again”, says Mansour. The one consolation is that the Christmas break, traditionally a time of high occupancy, is just around the corner.

But Mansour is confident the young people who attended the conference and who have seen for themselves what Sharm El-Sheikh offers will act as the best promoters for the city.

“They have seen for themselves how the reality is very different from the picture they get from their media about the region.”

Many officials and entrepreneurs attended the WYF which opened in Sharm El-Sheikh on 5 November. EgyptAir, the national carrier, promoted the forum by posting the WYF’s slogan on all domestic airplanes heading to the city.

South Sinai governorate employees have been working for months to ensure the success of the conference, says Fouda.

“Security forces combed over 30 valleys in mountainous areas and closed mountain paths that may be used by outlaws as part of a wider security plan to control exits and entrances to the governorate during the event,” he said.

During the past weeks promotion for the forum reached a crescendo with street banners and billboards on main streets in Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh. Huge photos of young participants decorated the main squares of the South Sinai city under the hashtag We Need to Talk. Buses and taxis were decked out with the forum’s slogans and television and social media promotion was rolled out.

Held under the banner “All for peace, development and creativity”, the WYF discussed sustainable development and ways to attract young people into business among many other topics.

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