What is the contribution of tourism to the economy of Egypt?
ABDEL NOUR: It was 11.3% of the GDP back in 2010, and I think the percentage did not diminish. It employs 4 million people which represents one out of six and a half of the Egyptian working force. It is the second source of foreign currency for the Egyptian economy. The total income generated from tourism in 2010 amounted to $12.5bn, and it is our target to double this amount in the coming five years to reach $25bn by 2017.
What are your growth and development plans? Specifically, what markets are you targeting?
ABDEL NOUR: Given the growth, we are targeting three things. First of all, diversify our products, and, specifically, developing green tourism and ecotourism. We are developing desert tourism with the developing wonders. We are re-introducing the Long Nile Cruise that links Cairo to Aswan. Also, we need to diversify our source markets. The growth will not come from our traditional markets, such as Europe and Arab countries. We believe we must get off the beaten path, and look at the new economic forces and new markets. For example, the BRICs and also, Mexico, Argentina, Vietnam, and South Korea. The third thing we have to do is take all necessary measures for the conservation of our historical heritage and preservation of the environment.
In terms of infrastructure, what would you say are the biggest challenges facing the sector? How could foreign investors help overcome those challenges?
ABDEL NOUR: We have two kinds of challenges. We have the short run challenges, which is primarily the perception of a lack of security in Egypt. We need to change this perception because it is a wrong perception. We do this by inviting professionals from the tourism business and press and media people to come to see for themselves that security and law and order prevail. I think that is our biggest short term challenge. In the medium term, we need to build the infrastructure with the capacity to be able to host some 30 million tourists by 2017. I think a lot of those projects are under way and under construction, such as the increase of the capacity of airports, ports, and building marinas especially in the Red Sea but also on the Mediterranean. A lot of hotels and resorts are currently under construction, but obviously we need to follow the plan and geographical distribution that has been very carefully started.
What are the biggest foreign investment opportunities in Egypt?
ABDEL NOUR: It is in the hotel and resort sector. The Red Sea coast is one of the most beautiful sea coasts in the world. It has a lot of potential, and it needs to be developed whether on the mainland or in Sinai. Egypt offers a lot of advantages and incentives to attract foreign investors. We stand ready to receive them, to stand by them, to help them, and to solve any problems they might face. We are confident that we will be able to attract them to execute our plan.
The total income generated from tourism in 2010 amounted to $12.5bn, and it is our target to double this amount in the coming five years to reach $25bn by 2017.
Does the climate for foreign investors remain open?
ABDEL NOUR: Yes. The climate for investors and investments in general and foreign investments, in particular, is improving. As for the democratic environment, we are aiming at the respect of the rule of law which will lead to an environment conducing to attract investments.