The land of pharaohs and pyramids, Egypt, is hard selling itself in India as a destination for leisure as well as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.
The northern African country is cheaper and more attractive than destinations in Europe and Africa, director of Egyptian tourism in India Magdi Selim said.
“India is the focus market of Egypt this year. We will promote Egyptian culture in cities like Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Ahmedabad. Egypt is an ideal leisure and business destination,” Selim told IANS in the capital.
The Mumbai-based Selim will work with local tour and travel trade agents and operators in these cities to push through attractive holiday packages and events, with the promotion campaign being kicked off with an “Egyptian Night” at Hotel Lalit over the weekend.
“The number of Indian footfalls in Egypt has been increasing over the last few years. In 2008, nearly 100,000 Indians visited Egypt and spent over 800,000 nights. Most Indian travellers, including the corporate incentive groups, prefer classic delights like the shopping experience, nightlife and cruises,” Selim said.
Selim, who was visiting the capital for the first time since his appointment, said he was expecting tourist flow from India to grow 10 percent this year. In 2008, it had risen 7.7 percent from that in the previous year.
Egyptian ambassador Mohammed Hezagy said the historical ties between the two countries and the cultural synergy were driving tourist arrivals from India.
“The outbound flow from India to Egypt has doubled over the last three years because of several reasons. The country caters to the Indian taste in terms of culture, religion, entertainment and shopping experiences. And several bilateral initiatives at the political and cultural level over the last couple of months have also helped,” Hezagy told IANS.
Trade between the two countries has touched $4 billion and Egypt wants to double this by next year, the envoy said.
Despite the downturn, Egypt is keen to tap India’s corporate sector offering packages for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.
“We have already taken large Indian corporate groups from Orient Fan, HDFC Bank, Crompton Greaves, Asian Paints and Nokia for three nights-four day incentive holidays to Cairo. And we are looking for more,” Cairo-based Ahmed Roushdy, marketing and sales director of Eastmar Tours, told IANS.
Bollywood is also another area from where Egypt expects more footfalls.