According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the contribution of Travel & Tourism to Gross Domestic Product in Egypt was around 13.0% (EGP154.7bn or US$26.7bn) in 2010. The sector’s contribution to employment was 2,543,000 jobs in 2010, which is around 10.9% of total employment or 1 in every 9.2 jobs.
The point I’m making is, travel and tourism is a big deal in the Egyptian economy, and it is one of the sectors that gets hit the fastest and the hardest at any sign of crisis. In the absence of tourists a wealth of business owners and employees are rendered without business. This starts with travel companies, hotels, tour operators, transport companies, tour guides, bazaars, resorts, manufacturers of souvenirs and restaurant owners.
Yet the current post revolution tourism slum isn’t what ails the industry the most. In fact, even at our best, the number of tourists flocking to Egypt pales compared to the sheer volume of history, culture and archaeological attractions Egypt has been blessed with. This can be attributed to many reasons; the cliché way in which we advertise tourism in Egypt, the extent to which filming an international film on Egyptian soil is difficult and the attitudes of the people themselves – the ones working in the travel and tourism industry.
Seeing as it will take time to fix attitudes and to stabilise the country enough for Hollywood to come shoot something as aesthetically pleasing as Cairo Time again; there is something that we can do now. We, the youth of Egypt, have used technology in our favour since the start of this year to bring about the change we wished to see in the world. We can utilise this very technology and this very energy to promote Egypt as the travel destination it deserves to be. This is a time for positioning and branding, moreover a time to do it through unconventional channels.
- Start a youtube channel called “Tourism Egypt”, shoot your own home movies or more professionally done videos of Egypt through your eyes, upload them to that channel and share it with your friends abroad. Let us attempt to display a different face of Egypt, one more original and personal, one a lot more inviting.
- Start a flickr album with photos of Egypt.
- Frequent the travel websites and set the record straight whenever you can, a large portion of international tourism is based on these travel websites and their reviews can make or break you.
- Contemplate hosting a stranger in your home, some people may be dying to visit post-revolution Egypt but interested in a more personal experience than the Nile side five star hotel. If you are feeling up for it, sign up at www.couchsurfing.org and start couch surfing yourself 🙂 (I’m sure there are other websites that offer comparative services, this was just the one I hear about the most).
- Have you heard of Touringa? I was blown away at the originality of the idea the first time I heard it and believe that concepts like these are the real future of the tourism industry. What Touringa does is connect you with other travel crazed citizens of the world, you can plan a trip and post its details and those wishing to join would contact you directly. Trips include off-roading in the desert, moonlight camping, scuba diving trips, walks in old Cairo…. you name it.
These were just off the top of my head based on some discussions with friends, feel free to throw some more ideas my way or to take some of these and really run with them.