Egypt’s tourism minister has called on the UK trade to continue supporting the destination as investigations continue into the cause of the fatal Airbus crash on Saturday.
Hisham Zaazou is in the UK promoting a new “aggressive” marketing campaign for the country called #ThisIsEgypt, which will see social media, outdoor and television advertising rolled out in Britain before the end of the year.
An investigation is continuing into the cause of the Russian Kogalymavia aircraft crash in the Sinai area after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh. All of the 217 passengers and seven crew were killed.
Speaking to Travel Weekly at World Travel Market gala dinner on Tuesday, Zaazou said he is “hopeful” that the crash will be found to be down to a technical or mechanical fault, “rather than anything else”.
The Islamic State affiliate known as Sinai Province had issued a written statement and an audio message saying that it brought down the passenger jet, which Egypt rejects.
Zaazou said: “We feel that Egypt is very much open for business.
“The events of the weekend are leaving a bit of a negative shadow but this won’t change our strategic approach.
“We are hoping the investigations will be a positive result for Egypt, in that it will be found to be a technical or mechanical fault, and not anything else.
“They are starting the investigation today and I hope it won’t last too much longer. If it does turn out to be something else, we will deal with it and see what the appropriate measures are.”
Zaazou thanked the UK trade for supporting Egypt.
“The travel trade are our partners and they will continue to be very important to us,” he said. “We have seen a 9% growth since January and look forward to double digit growth from the UK market next year.”
Addressing delegates at the gala dinner, Zaazou said: “I want to tell our British friends here tonight, do not rule out a mechanical or technical fault…if you’ve been doing business with Egypt for a while, we have come a long way.
“Security and safety is now in a very good state, and that’s the reason behind my smile.
“Come over and enjoy the diversity and variety. We at this juncture, do thank the UK for sending the business, and continuing to send the business so far.
“We are still around the one million mark for UK tourists coming here, but I want to surpass the figures of 2010 when we almost reached 1.5 million.
“I look forward in the coming weeks and months to be really good for business, for both of us, and for our country, because we do need it.”
Egyptair chairman Hishan Elhahas added that the airline is “working hard” with the ministry of tourism to boost the traffic to Egypt, through marketing initiatives, events and promotional activities, “bringing the message to the world of how peaceful Egypt is”.
Dan Lion, director of Holiday Designers, a high end operator which specialises in Egypt, Israel and Cyprus, said despite the weekend’s events, the company took bookings for Egypt on Monday.
He said: “Despite the difficulties [more generally] Egypt has been facing, our business has been moving in the right direction. The feedback has been good from World Travel Market.
“We as a business are up 30% up to the end of October this year, compared to last year, whereas the feedback I heard today is that hotels and the like are down 20%.
“I think it helps that what we are offering is five star luxury – we are not competing with the bed banks.”
Steve Goodenough, general manager of Mosaic Holidays, said: “We expect to see 20% growth in Egypt booking next year and for it to really take off in 2017.
“No one can deny that it has been difficult trading for Egypt for the past few years. But that market is resilient. It is a high quality destination and there is a hardcore of people who want to travel there.
“It is not a question of whether it will pick up again, but when.”