Direct flight route agreement between Delhi and Cairo
Airport staff stand next to an EgyptAir plane on the runway at Cairo Airport - REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
By DALIA FAROUK

CAIRO: Egypt’s national carrier EgyptAir will offer direct flights from Cairo to Delhi, India three times weekly after the signing of a direct flight agreement, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou announced Tuesday.

Minister of Civil Aviation Hossam Kamal, Indian Ambassador in Cairo Navdab Suri, and officials from EgyptAir attended the signing.

With this agreement, there will be seven weekly trips between India and Egypt, with four flights between Cairo and Mumbai.

These flights aim to increase tourism coming from India and revive tourism in general. There is continuous coordination between Egypt’s Ministries of Aviation and Tourism with efforts from both state bodies to promote the tourism sector.

The Ministry of Tourism planned to attract tourists from countries such as India and China as new tourists markets.

Indian tourism to Egypt and partnership with India are important, Zaazou said, including annual exhibitions and other events to attract visitors. He announced Monday the launch of an international campaign to show the “real” image of tourism in Egypt.

He said hotel occupancy rates exceeded 70 percent in the Red Sea area after the removal of several travel bans from a number of European countries, and that they will launch a direct flight route between Cairo and Lisbon next October.

The tourism file has been the center of focus from several state bodies, Zaazou said. The council of ministers formed a committee to choose a firm to conduct international public relations campaign in the next few weeks to improve the mental image of Egypt worldwide.

“Egypt is trying to revive tourism with all methods possible; after the unrest in 2011 and all terrorists’ attacks recently, the sector was negatively affected,” Tour Operator in Travel Agency Mariz Nabil told The Cairo Post in a phone interview Wednesday.

She said the number of tourists and visitors worldwide declined, which is damaging Egypt’s economy in general and the livelihood and income of over 10 million Egyptians work in that field.

Nabil said the Asian market in general should provide many visitors due to their high population and good living standards that allow many Asians the chance to travel abroad.

Indians and Asians in general are interested in the Egyptian culture and love to visit the country as they are open to discovering more cultures and are interested in Egyptian history, according to Nabil. The sector needs to target all potential visitors to provide the needed boost to tourism.

Direct flights aim to increase the number of visitors, which would benefit tourism, EgyptAir employee Amani Ahmad said in a phone interview with The Cairo Post Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, there are no precise statistics of how many visitors are expected to visit via the new direct route but hopefully it will be successful and will be the start of other successful new routes from all around the world,” Ahmed said.

The company and tourism sectors are giving their best efforts to attract as many tourists as possible with promotions and other initiatives that will be revealed in the near future. “The country is witnessing more stability and in time tourism will be back to normal,” she said.

In June 25, Egypt allocated $50 million of the general budget of the fiscal year 2014-2015 to fund a worldwide tourism promotion campaign, a ministry official told Anadolu Agency(when?).

The allocation will be directed to advertisement campaigns in countries with the highest rates of travelers to Egypt including Russia, Germany, Poland, the U.K., and Italy, the official said.

Despite efforts to attract foreigners to visit Egypt and assure them that it is safe, the tourism sector faces a constant decline since the overthrowing of former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped 20.7 percent year-on-year in May, reaching 768,000 tourists, compared to the 969,000 in May 2013, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) Sunday.

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