Egypt Tourism Chief Shrugs Off War Impact With New Hotel Plans

(Bloomberg) -- Egypt’s tourism chief said the industry looks set to ride out the shockwaves of the Israel-Hamas war as it focuses on a hotel-building spree to accommodate more visitors after a record influx earlier in 2023.

Even with conflict next door, the North African nation remains confident it can meet a previous target of 15 million arrivals this year, with the number likely rising further in 2024, Tourism Minister Ahmed Issa said in an interview. That’s spurring authorities to plan incentives including tax breaks to speed the construction of extra capacity.

“The No. 1 challenge that Egypt faces today is the number of hotel rooms,” Issa told Bloomberg in the nation’s new administrative capital. The country needs at least 25,000 additional rooms in 2024 and 40,000 the year after, he said.

Tourism income, long a pillar of Egypt’s economy along with Suez Canal transit fees and foreign remittances, is assuming ever-greater importance for the cash-strapped country as it wrestles with its worst fiscal crisis in decades. S&P Global Ratings warned Nov. 6 that the leisure industries in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan were particularly exposed to the impact of the Israel-Hamas war that erupted a month before.