Working Papers

Tourism in Egypt: An Unfinished Business

Publication Number: ECESWP147-E

May, 2009

Author : Mohamed Sakr, Nada Massoud and Hala Sakr

Type : Working Papers

Egypt's tourism has experienced significant growth over the past fifteen years, but such outstanding performance did not prevent doubts about the sector's effectiveness, potentials and future prospects. In this context, the paper investigates the reliability of official tourism figures in displaying the real economic impact of the sector, the extent to which tourism potentials are still untapped, and finally,whether tourism is yet a relatively restrictive business that requires further liberalization actions. To test tourism potential, the study applies a panel data econometric technique that estimates tourism demand and foregone opportunities. The findings pinpoint considerable foregone opportunities in terms of unsatisfied potential demand in general and for certain markets and tourism products, stressing the need for the design and implementation of well-targeted marketing plans and promotional campaigns. The study then analyzes Egypt’s GATS commitments in tourism as well as the sector’s international competitiveness, in an attempt to identify means for consolidating the country's position in the international tourism market. The main conclusion drawn in this respect is that further liberalization actions would not be effective unless conceived as an integral part of a full reform package, with special emphasis on the effectuation of domestic regulation relating to human resources, infrastructure development and environment conservation. The study highlights the main shortcomings of current tourism statistics, calling for the endorsement of the concept and methodology of tourism satellite accounts to ensure adequate and better assessment of tourism economic significance.