JEDDAH — Egypt, which was once the most favored tourist destination for Saudis, is now back in the sights of Saudi tourists after the election of Abdul Fattah El-Sisi as Egypt's new president. Many Saudi families are now booking their flights to their most favorite tourist attraction in the country.
Tourism in Egypt was recently hit hard after the country witnessed two revolutions, in addition to the political instability that swept the country.
With the exception of Saudi families that own homes in Egypt and travel there every once in a while, the vast majority decided to visit countries in Europe and Asia. Egypt's economy was greatly affected as the number of tourists dropped sharply, affecting more than 4 million people working in this sector.
Egypt has always been a preferred destination for families during the summer vacation and for others who want a close weekend getaway. This year, there are many Saudis who are planning to travel to Egypt for their summer vacation.
Essam Abdel Ghaney, supervisor at Nile Travel & Tourism Agency in Jeddah, said the number of Saudis traveling to Egypt is on the rise. He said the percentage of Saudis traveling this year is expected to increase compared to last year.
He added: “This year has witnessed changes in the type of travelers going to the country because the number of families traveling is increasing. Last year, because of political instability, only single youths were traveling to Egypt,” he said. He said families' making travel plans to Egypt is a good sign that things are gradually returning to normal and that there is no fear anymore. Before, families were avoiding traveling with their children as Egypt's security situation was unpredictable.
He added that the holy month of Ramadan would not have any effect on tourism in Egypt as many Saudis still prefer to spend Ramadan in that country. “People will still have the chance to travel to Egypt after Ramadan because there will still be the full month of Shawwal left for vacation before school starts,” added Essam.
Motea Al-Shanqiti, a Saudi who is a frequent traveler to Egypt, said that since 2010, he did not travel to the country with his family because of the political unrest.
“Going to Egypt was a risk that I did not want my family to be exposed to. I used to take my family with me to Cairo whenever I had business trips. For the past three years, I was visiting Cairo only if it was necessary and left immediately after the job was done. This time, I am going back with my family and planning to spend the whole month of Shawwal traveling all over Egypt.”
Abu Feras, a Saudi father of five and an owner of a house outside Cairo, said his family did not travel to Egypt since the revolution. He is now planning to travel after Eid with his family since the political situation is stable.
“Egypt is a beautiful country and it is about time it reappears again in the tourism map as a favorite destination.”
He said he booked his flight after Ramadan and found the tickets very cheap for him and his family.
An owner of travel agency in Egypt, who refused to mention his name, said a positive of Saudis is that they consider Egypt their second home.
“This year I expect more Saudis to come to Egypt, especially Cairo. In the past, a good number of Saudis visited Egypt, but many of them spent their vacation in the Red Sea resorts away from Cairo, which was the center of tension,” he said.
He added that they have many reasonable tourism packages that offer good prices for tourists.
“Before the revolution, our main target was to earn more money. Now our aim is to get back as many tourists as possible to Egypt. We want to restore faith in the heart and minds of Saudi tourists that Egypt is a safe place,” he added.