Top Egyptian travel company sees sector recovering as tourists return

Tourists are seen on a beach in the Aqaba Gulf on the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt July 12, 2018. Picture taken July 12, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2018
0

Top Egyptian travel company sees sector recovering as tourists return

  • Egypt’s revenues from tourism jumped 77 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2018 to $4.8 billion
  • Tourism is a cornerstone of Egypt’s economy, a source of income for millions of citizens and a major source of foreign exchange

CAIRO: One of the biggest Egyptian travel companies, Travco Group, said on Tuesday that hotel bookings are rising as tourists return to the country after years of political turmoil and security concerns.
Tourism is a cornerstone of Egypt’s economy, a source of income for millions of citizens and a major source of foreign exchange. But the sector suffered severely in the years following 2011’s popular uprising and was further hampered by a spate of militant attacks which targeted visitors.
Egypt’s revenues from tourism jumped 77 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2018 to $4.8 billion, while the number of tourists arriving in the country increased by 41 percent to just over 5 million.
Travco Group, which owns over 40 hotels in Egypt and abroad and is the local agent for Germany’s TUI Group, raised its prices by 30-35 percent at the beginning of this winter season, its CEO Hamed El Chiaty told Reuters in an interview.
“The level of tourist bookings during the current winter holiday season in Egypt is promising,” Chiaty said, adding that bookings from Germany, Italy, Poland and Ukraine were particularly promising.
In a devasting blow to the already struggling sector, Russia halted all flights to Egypt, and Britain stopped flights to Sinai, after an Islamist militant bomb attack brought down a Russian passenger plane in October 2015, killing everyone on board.
There have not been any major attacks aimed at the tourist sector in well over a year and Russia resumed flights to Cairo in April, although it has yet to authorize its aircraft to land in the Red Sea resort of Sham Al-Sheikh.
Chiaty said that Travco’s price increases were the highest in seven years, rising to pre-2011 levels, while occupancy levels at the group’s hotels were more than 80 percent, with the exception of Sharm Al-Sheikh.
Travco has market share of between 15 and 20 percent of the Polish, Belgian, English, Italian, Ukrainian and Austrian markets, Chiaty said, adding that it had recently refurbished its hotels.


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
0

Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.