Can Egypt’s tourism industry get back on track after Sinai crash?
Since the Oct. 31, 2015 crash of the Russian Airbus A321 in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 224 people, Cairo has faced a crisis in the tourism sector in Egypt. Tourism is an important source of foreign currency revenue for Egypt and provides thousands of jobs. The crisis was exacerbated when a number of countries suspended flights to Egypt amid doubts that Egypt’s airport security was insufficient which is not true. Visitors’ numbers are down by almost half, leaving beaches abandoned, hotels closed and businesses struggling. The average number of nights tourists are spending in the country also went down by 67.2 per cent in February this year compared to 2015, from 9.2 to 5.5. Egypt’s government, keen to maintain desperately-needed income from visitors, has been reluctant to admit any security problems, but many foreigners remain unconvinced.
Immediate communication took place from the government of Egypt side. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry phoned his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on the same day (October 31) to express his deepest condolences over the Russian plane crash, stressing the commitment of the Egyptian authorities to uncover the circumstances surrounding the incident, in full cooperation and coordination with the Russian side. The spokesperson added that, on his part, the Russian Foreign Minister expressed his country’s appreciation for the efforts undertaken by the Egyptian authorities to deal with the incident and to uncover the surrounding circumstances, expressing the aspirations of the Russian side for the continuation of cooperation and coordination with Egypt during the coming period.
In their most recent meeting in mid-March 2016, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shukri agreed to make efforts to resume direct flights between Egypt and Russia in the shortest possible period of time.
As we know, social media is the best opportunity for building and enhancing relationships. Being visible and available in the virtual world is very important. Social media is a powerful tool for increasing visibility, building relationships and connecting with others; if followers trust our content, they will share it with their friends because they will feel like they are doing a good deed for them and this is the role of Community managers to establish emotional connections with audience through social media tools used. We should not forget that combining videos, images and infographics with text messages is a way for engaging and connecting with audience on a deeper level; Visual elements are very effective as they stick in the person’s memory more than words; also, it communicates a clear story with trust and credibility which leads for more engagement.
My proposed plan
- An interview within hours of the accident to be held with the Minister for Aviation in 2-3 TV channels to provide public with clear information on the situation and make a short brief on actions taken among which Cairo hired global consultancy firm Control Risks, which specializes in assessing risk at airports, to obtain an international certificate accredited by a neutral party to attest to Egyptian airports’ compliance with international safety standards. This step was not taken as a result of weakness in the safety and security system at Egypt’s airports, which he described as very good.
- Develop several promotional campaigns to revive tourism using all methods of tourism promotion and marketing to increase Egypt’s foreign and domestic tourism. Develop brochures advertising attractive packages for tourists and special tours for beaches, resorts and archaeological sites.
- Organize events in touristic places with the participant of actors, actress, singers, football players and other celebrities.
- Create a page where updated information on the security measurements taken by the government to be posted and where customers could ask questions or express their concerns. Enhance effective interaction on social media platforms (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, YouTube, blog…etc), encourage external and internal communication by sharing thoughts and favorite photos of Egypt on social media and promote hotels’ attractive offers. As social media engagement involves continuous dialogue and interaction with followers who assume to receive a response, creating a page for this purpose will be very useful to restore trust and confidence of tourists.
- Good monitoring, evaluation and assessment method for our strategy is very important for efficiently manage our communication tools and timely take appropriate actions.
- Key messages:We are confident that we have a very good traveler and visitor safety system at our airports, but we want to send out a message of reassurance to the world and to Egyptian citizens.