With performances lined up in Paris, Marseilles and Barcelona following sell-out shows in Madrid and Lyon, the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority hopes the singer will help to raise the country’s profile.
Egypt may be best known for its ancient wonders, but the country now wants to appeal to Europe’s culture vultures as well as sun-seekers.
“Hakim still attracts a lot of younger Egyptians. He represents this dynamic, modern side to Egyptian culture,” said Amr El-Ezabi, director of the Egyptian Tourist Office for the UK and the Nordic countries.
“Egypt is very famous as a historic destination – it’s one of the strongest brands in this respect. What we need to build upon is the contemporary culture aspect of the brand as vivid, modern and attractive.
“We don’t only have the temples of the pharaoh; we were also the first country in the Middle East to have a Philharmonic orchestra and a ballet house. We have also been the biggest producers of cinema in the region since the beginning of the 20th century.
“These are things we need to remind people of,” he said.
The effect is cumulative, he continued, citing the impact of film industries like Hollywood and Bollywood on tourism in the US and India over time.
“We need to create more awareness among people here of our output in terms of music and the arts, and revive the image of Egypt as a cultural destination.”
Egypt’s tourism market has weathered a series of setbacks following several terror attacks in recent years, and authorities are keen to tap into new source markets.
A $22 million annual campaign budget has been allocated to promote Egypt across 26 different markets, including Latin America and southern Europe.
Prior to 2011, the UK and Italy, along with Russia, were Egypt’s biggest tourism markets, while today Germany, Saudi Arabia and Jordan top the list.
While 1.5 million Britons visited Egypt in 2010, the tally had dwindled to 231,000 last year.
Still, the country remains a popular choice according to Hollie Youlden, head of marketing at London-based travel company On the Go Tours.
“The UK remains one of our main territories for Egypt. The Brits love dry heat and the weather there is perfect in the winter.”
Last month, Egypt was the company’s top-selling destination, she said, and numbers have been healthy throughout the year. “We’ve been running tours to Egypt for 20 years now, and the only time we saw a decline was during the Arab Spring.
“Over the last few years, passenger numbers have been rising steadily and Egypt has become one of our best-selling destinations again, competing with the likes of Iceland and Vietnam.”
Tour operator Kuoni also reported rising interest in Egypt. “We have started to see an increase in inquiries for Egypt in our stores across the UK, and bookings for next year are up, particularly for Nile Cruises.
“Egypt has such strong appeal with its bucket-list monuments, and from the UK it can be reached in less than six hours,” a spokesperson for the company told Arab News.
Data released on Thursday by STR showed that occupancy levels in Egyptian hotels have seen a 12.9 percent increase in demand, with double-digit growth for all but one month of 2017.
Tourism revenues rose by 170 percent in the first seven months of 2017, according to figures reported by Reuters, with 4.3 million tourists visiting the country during this period, marking a 54 percent increase on a year earlier — largely due to an increase in visitors from Germany and Ukraine.
Europeans made up 75 percent of these visitors.