Egypt woos the Indian traveller

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New Delhi: With its tourism industry badly hit due to the political turmoil in the country, Egypt is now planning to launch aggressive campaigns in India with special corporate packages and is starting direct flights from Delhi.

Cairo is even wooing Bollywood and has an interesting package for youngsters.

Kicking off a new promotional campaign for Egypt in India at the SATTE 2012, Khaled El Bakly, ambassador of Egypt to India, said Saturday both countries have a lot in common besides cultural similarities.
“Tourism industry has recorded a drop of 30-40 per cent following turmoil in the country last year. But with presidential elections scheduled in the middle of the year, things will get better and we are expecting to attract more people, especially from India this year,” said Bakly.

In 2011, 15 million people visited Egypt, which came down to 9.5 million in 2011 and the revenue was $6 billion.

“Tourism contributes about 11 per cent to our GDP and is an important sector. During the protests at Tahrir Square last year, people had three demands – jobs, bread and social equality – and that is possible if tourism and other sectors grow,” he said.

To make travel easy for people from India, Air Egypt is already in talks with Indian authorities to launch direct flights between Cairo and Delhi.

“Presently, there are direct flights from Mumbai to Cairo. We will soon start direct flights from Delhi, which is expected to attract more Indian tourists,” he said.

Egypt received 114,500 Indian tourists in 2010 and is targeting over one million tourists by 2015.

The north African nation is targeting youngsters in India with its new campaign having several adventure destinations besides resuming the 14-day Nile-Aswan cruise, which was closed for several years for administrative reasons.

“About 60 per cent of Indian population is young and so is the case in Egypt. We want more and more young people to visit Egypt and communicate with youngsters,” he said.

Allaying security fears in the country, Bakly said: “Cairo was the center of change and no tourists got affected there.”

He said Egypt is also in talks with many Bollywood producers to shoot movies in the country.

A civil uprising in the country last January led to President Hosni Mubarak stepping down after nearly 30 years in power.