Will Regeneration of Saint Catherine’s Treasure Trove Save Egyptian Tourism Sector?
Despite having some of the most enduring historical monuments on Earth, the Egyptian tourism sector has been witnessing a major downfall due to rising Covid-19 cases all over the world. As per the country’s central bank, tourism revenues have dropped by 21.6 percent in the last fiscal year. In 2019, Egypt received 1.84 million visitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
At the moment, most visitors coming to Egypt’s tourist places are preferring visits to the country’s seaside destinations. As per the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities — Khaled Al-Anani, famous resort towns — Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada have welcomed over 430,000 travellers since July. Following this growth, the country is planning to bring total tourist arrivals to 2.64 million by 2024.
Speaking about losses to the Egyptian tourism sector, Al-Anani added that “We are running now 10 percent of our numbers, if you compare November 2020 to November 2019 in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurgahda, we will find that we are running only 10 percent of the tourist numbers”.
In a bid to boost the Egyptian tourism sector, the government is planning to embark on the development of the neglected religious trove of Saint Catherine. Several members of the Committee on Tourism in the Egyptian Parliament believe that Saint Catherine stands as a symbol of tolerance and coexistence between religions and cultures.
Further, the government is also working to strengthen Egypt’s position on the world map by emphasising on the country’s religious specificity and focusing on its cultural and tourist importance. Since Saint Catherine doesn’t have a strong road connectivity with the rest of Egypt, the new development plan, labelled the “Great Descent” will highlight the place among tourists.
The Egyptian Cabinet has also planned to upgrade its airport to receive one flight to the city from capital Cairo. Also, weekly flights will be run from Greek capital — Athens, to the city.
For luring tourists from foreign countries, the Egyptian tourist industry has planned to restore its World Heritage Site since 2002 — Saint Catherine Monastery. Home to the sworld’s second largest library, the restoration of the monastery will surely aid in early recovery of the tourism sector.
Besides planning to kick start budget hotels, the government is also planning to start multiple bazaars and restaurants that serve local Bedouin cuisine as well as other cuisines. The establishment of an aerial lift over the mountains of the different sites of Saint Catherine is also under future plans.
The European tourism sector is aiming to increase its sustainability and focus more on efforts related to biodiversity. Generous attempts are being made to initiate sustainable waste disposal and reduce CO emissions. With a wide range of tourist places, surely the country’s investments in this direction will bear sweet fruits in future, thereby pushing the Egyptian tourism sector to new heights.