Travelers return to Egypt as political stability recovers

Travelers are no longer afraid to visit Egypt due to its growing political stability. 

"Egypt is a really compelling tourist destination, and the stable political situation has helped regain trust in the country as a favorite tourist destination," Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, said during a roundtable meeting this week. 

Marriott International has historically named Egypt a key market. Sorenson added that the country is seeing more stability and optimism now than there was in 2012, which faced uncertainty. Tourism numbers haven't made record increases, but they are recovering. Egypt recorded 8 million visitors to the country in 2017, compared to the 4.5 million seen in 2016. This growth has contributed to the recent increase in tourism and hotel investments.

International tourism has also grown, despite the increase in terrorist attacks around the world in recent years. These terrorist attacks, including the incidents in London, Brussels and Paris, no longer impede international tourism because travelers are aware that they can happen anywhere in the world. 

"There have been 1.3 billion international trips in 2017, a 6.7-percent increase over 2016," Sorenson said. "The predictability that these events might happen again around the world made it a sign of encouragement, and many tourists decide to travel anyway." 

Sorenson also addressed the U.S. travel ban on citizens from several Muslim countries. "Our business is hospitality, and we welcome everyone around the world," he said. 

Marriott plans to add more than 1,200 guestrooms in four new hotels currently in the development pipeline for Egypt. The company has a total of 18 hotels with more than 7,400 guestrooms in the market. The group has been seeing an uptick in hotel investment in Egypt, especially in the development of cities and the New Administrative Capital. 

"These are projects that can attract many investments," Alex Keyriakidis, president and MD of the Middle East and Africa at Marriott, said at the roundtable. 

Marriott is currently in talks with the Egyptian Ministry of Housing to develop projects in cities, like El-Alamein, and underrepresented cities, like Alexandria. The company is especially focused on developing hotel projects in Upper Egypt and the Red Sea.  

"We want to expand our projects in places like Luxor and Aswan as well," Keyriakidis said. “We need to stimulate the market by having more flights."