Egypt Souvenir Makers Abandon Business Post Failing to Avail Government’s Aid
There is no denying to the fact that the pandemic has ravaged earnings for locals all over the world. Likewise, large-scale flight cancellations and consequent reduction in visitor arrivals have reduced the bread-winning capacity of Egypt souvenir makers, to an extent that mere survival has become a challenging task.
The first Egyptian city to get struck with the virus in 2020, ‘Luxor’ is also the one to be witness a severe hit on tourism-related revenues. Due to minimal government support amidst Covid, many tourism workers were forced to switch professions. Despite facing various political uprisings and turmoil in the past decade, Egypt souvenir makers & shop owners in Cairo’s historic Khan al-Khalili market assert that business this time is declining more severely than ever.
While the government claims of distributing aid packages to various sectors, thousands of Egypt souvenir makers have complained of being dumped in deep financial crisis. This is primarily because those who aren’t registered with the Ministry of Tourism cannot consider government’s help.
After shutting doors to international tourists, the Egyptian Tourism Ministry had started promoting domestic tourism to keep the industry afloat. Although this move benefitted drooping sales of hotel operators, it didn’t protect the interests of souvenir makers who draw most of their income from international tourist buyers. Many manufacturers had to reduce man force due to decreasing sales, thereby aggravating unemployment.
Eid Yousri, who manufactures polyester Pharaonic figurines near the Giza Pyramids laments the loss of 70 percent of his business. Speaking to a France based press agency — AFP, he said, “we had about 15 workers — compared to five today”.
To meet the government’s agenda of promoting ‘Made in Egypt’ products, it initiated an investment worth 80 million pounds in 2015. Under this scheme, authorities prohibited import of all goods and products of popular art nature in order to boost sales of home-grown crafts and souvenirs. According to tourism expert Elhamy al-Zayat, this initiative was a ‘smart marketing exercise’, yet increases risks for surplus stock in the replica goods market. He elaborated that excessive production may reduce the value of products made by Egypt souvenir makers.
Moreover, factory production of home-grown products will reduce employment opportunities for many who are already struggling to survive amidst the pandemic.
As the country is consistently trying to recover from economic losses of the third wave, many Egypt souvenir makers are planning to completely abandon the business as future seems bleak and government support is minimal.