Mo Salah: An Important Player, but Not the Only One
How can Mo Salah contribute to the recovery of Egyptian tourism? Lessons from the bad performance of the Egyptian national team and its early exit from AFCON 2019.
By Markets Chimp
7/13/19 2:23 AM
Mahmoud Gad, CMA
People worldwide - particularly the African and the Arab - are turning to Egypt as the hosting of the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 “AFCON 2019”. Other than Egypt, 23 African countries, including 4 Arab countries, are participating in the championship. The beauty is that each African country has a distinctive culture and civilization. How beautiful African peoples are! Their real gain is not only the competition to win the trophy, but it is the harmony between their hearts, no matter their differences.
Egypt's success in organizing such events and receiving thousands of fans from different countries is a message to the whole world that it is a safe country. No doubt, it is a major challenge against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks that Egypt faced during the past years as a result of the security challenges following the 25 January 2011 Revolution. Some countries had warned their nationals to travel to Egypt, which affected the number of tourists to Egypt negatively. What made matters worse was the Russian plane crash in Egypt in late 2015, the terrorist attack that killed all passengers and crew on the flight.
After the floatation of the Egyptian pound in November 2016, Egypt became one of the cheapest destinations in the world. This seems to have been an important incentive for the recovery in tourism, especially with security restored. Although the number of tourists to Egypt grew strongly in 2017 and 2018, they are still below the highest level reached in 2010. The number of tourists traveling to Egypt as a country remains much lower than in some cities like Dubai. This is despite the fact that Egypt has all touristic attractions, monuments, a strategic geographical location, topography, stunning views, and a good climate throughout the year. This makes it a world-class tourist destination throughout the year.
Therefore, Egyptian tourism still has the chance to be at the top of the global tourism map and to generate higher growth. But this requires having a tourist map that includes various types of tourism, such as cultural, religious, therapeutic, beach, recreational, and other types including hosting competitions and championships and the set-up of shopping and film festivals. But this will only be made possible by encouraging more investments to create a variety of tourism projects across the region as well as developing roads, infrastructure, facilities and services, and building human resources working in the industry. Here, the state and the private sector should not rely solely on the traditional approach: "Build it, and they will come."
The global tourism market is very competitive. First, the hosting countries must plan and study tourist-exporting markets and their needs then allocate huge budgets to launch strong and ongoing promotional campaigns. This can only be achieved in the presence of strong political relations between hosting and tourist-exporting countries. Therefore, I disagree with those who said that it was a good promotion for Egypt that will attract millions of tourists to the country when the Liverpool star, the Egyptian King Mo Salah posted on social media his photos on one of the attractive beaches in Egypt. Unless this is done within a major promotional campaign while considering the political relations and the importance of diversifying Egypt's tourism map as mentioned above. Mo Salah and other celebrities spend their holidays on many of the world's beaches and post their photos for their followers to see. But which of these celebrities and destinations will have a greater impact and to what extent? Didn’t I just tell you that it is a very competitive industry?
Last but not least, Mo Salah remains an important player for Egypt, but he is not the only one. The state cannot rely on one player only to win the competition while ignoring other parties of the game.