Egypt: Time to Lure Back the Tourists
August 29, 2014
Egypt’s ambassador to Poland, Reda Bebars, talks to Marcin Kłosowski.
How would you describe current economic relations between Egypt and Poland?
Unfortunately, the volume of trade with Poland is small when you compare it with the size of Egypt and the size Poland and the importance of the two countries. Poland is a big economy and Egypt is a big and growing market, but the trade volume does not exceed 300 million euros a year. It goes up and down and the balance is usually in Poland’s favor. There is a lot of room for improvement. This we can work hard on, especially in the coming period, when Egypt is going to put a lot of effort into becoming a significant economy in the region.
Which sectors of the Egyptian economy have the most growth potential in the near future?
Egypt has potential to grow in agriculture, industry, road construction and construction in general. We need a lot of housing, bridges, tunnels, new roads and power generation. The development map that the president of Egypt is working on is concentrating on these things, as they are very important to Egypt’s entire economy.
Is this a good time for Polish companies to invest in Egypt?
This could be a very good opportunity for all EU countries to invest, especially Poland. Polish people love Egypt, which is why we used to be the number one tourist destination for Poles. We cannot talk about the economy and trade and everything else without talking about tourism. This is a key factor in our relations.
How do you like Warsaw? What do you think of Poland?
You should be proud of your country. You have done very well, you have developed economically, democratically, you have a very stable democracy. You have achieved a lot in building Poland up as a developed country. I think this could be a good example in many respects for Egypt. You now have a stable market and a stable currency, you didn’t suffer that much from the financial crisis. You didn’t suffer from it as severely as other countries. So I feel that Poland is heading in the right direction, I feel that Poland is going to become one of the leading countries in the EU in the coming years, like France, Germany and the UK. I think you will do it with this rate of development every year. That’s how I see Poland. It is a safe country and a diversified one.
The number of tourists to Egypt has fallen in the last few years due to political instability. What do you think Egypt can do to attract more visitors?
We have, of course, suffered very much in terms of the decreased number of tourists to Egypt, because of the two revolutions in the last three-and-a-half years. We want to change the stereotypes about tourism. Polish people usually have this stereotypical idea of Egypt: go to Sharm-el-Sheikh or Hurghada, enjoy the water, the hotel, eat and drink and go back. Now there’s a diversity of things you can do in Egypt, for example water sports such as kite surfing, wind surfing, boat racing. We are working on diversifying tourism in Egypt, especially in historic places such as Luxor, Aswan and Alexandria. I think in the coming few years we will achieve a lot in this area. We want to diversify, we don’t want the stereotype. We had more than 600,000 Polish tourists in 2010 and now we would like to increase that number and diversify at the same time.