CAIRO: A regular ferry service linking Egypt’s port in Hurghada with Saudi Arabia’s port of Duba will open in June, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou said in a statement Wednesday.
“Five luxurious ferries will transport travelers with their cars across the Red Sea,” Zaazou said and that the new service aims to promote tourism and encourage Gulf tourists to visit Egypt.
The ferry is expected to cut the distance between Duba and Hurghada to two hours, Zaazou added.
In light of the Ministry of Tourism’s initiative to attract gulf tourists, Zaazou received Saudi travel industry representatives including head of the Arab Tourism Organization Bandar bin Fahd Al-Fahid along with Saudi media figures.
The Saudi delegation arrived in Hurghada Wednesday on board EgyptAir’s first direct flight between Jeddah and Hurghada.
Earlier this month and during the inauguration of Egypt’s Booth at the 21st Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2014, Zaazou announced a national initiative to attract 25 million tourists by 2020. It would develop Egypt’s Tourism Ministry to revive the country’s deteriorated tourism sector after years of political turmoil since the January 25 Revolution.
“The initiative includes engaging over 25 charter flights linking major touristic destinations in Egypt to Gulf States to encourage Arab tourists to visit Egypt,” Zaazou said.
The Ministry of Tourism developed travel packages at “reasonable” prices to attract Gulf tourists, Zaazou said and that packages start from U.S. $300 per person, including round trip flight tickets and seven nights’ accommodation.
The turnout of Arab tourists visiting Egypt dropped to 1.8 million during 2013 compared to 2.3 million tourists in 2012, according to the statement.
The number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped 27 percent in February, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics’ report. The drop followed a car bomb in a tourism bus in Taba that killed three Korean tourists and their Egyptian driver.
The tourism sector contributes 11.3 percent of Egypt’s GDP and brings in around 14.4 percent of foreign currency revenues, according to Egypt’s General Budget report released by the Ministry of Finance last month.
Almost 120,000 Arab tourists visited Egypt in March, compared to more than 180,000 visitors in the same period in 2013.