Skift Take

Egyptian travel executives are adamant that Cairo's tourism industry will benefit enormously from the country's new capital — even if some critics believe the $59 billion project is money misspent.

Egypt is building a new, yet-to-be named capital city at a cost of $59 billion that’s scheduled to open in 2023 as part of its strategy to decongest Cairo, one of Africa’s largest cities. Travel executives believe the gargantuan project will also provide a significant boost to the country’s tourism industry.

“The shift will make Cairo a far more friendly destination, making it less crowded with expats,” said Kenneth Vásquez Laya, the director of travel agency Egypt Tourism USA.

“Cairo is also undergoing a major facelift now with new museums, restoration projects taking place, malls opening, more luxury activities on the Nile for locals and visitors to enjoy. I have a feeling that Cairo will change for the better.”

Karim El Minabawy, president of Cairo-based travel agency Emeco Travel, also sees the benefits of relocating the capital roughly 28 miles from its current location from a tourism standpoint. The population of the Greater Cairo region is projected to jump from 22 million to 40 million people by 2050.

“The effect of increased traffic congestion to a destination is that it lowers the image perception of a destination,” El Minabawy said. “People want to get away from the noise, pollution and congestion of a busy city life, especially now that everyone is talking about carbon emissions and wellness.”

“So having the administrative bit get a new place will decongest Cairo making it easier for tourists to move around with ease.”

Egypt has seen tourism boom this year — roughly 4.9 million overseas visitors came in the first half of 2022, an 85 percent increase from the figure recorded during the same period the previous year. And El Minabawy believes a decongested Cairo will make Egypt more appealing for remote workers, with the government planning to promote its Mediterranean coast and Red Sea as ideal locations for members of the growing segment.

“Egypt needed a facelift. If we want to attract international companies to settle in Egypt, then there is need to develop because Cairo and other parts of Egypt which have lost their appeal,” said Khaled Adham, an architecture and urban planning researcher.

“International employees in global companies move based on the lifestyle that the city offers.”

Although El Minabawy said the government doesn’t intend to make the new capital a major tourism destination, the city will be home to the 1,293 foot Iconic Tower, which will be Africa’s tallest building upon completion in 2023. The new capital will also be the site of theme park that Egyptian officials said would be bigger than Disneyland.

“The face of Egypt is changing in leaps and bounds and even [while] excavations from the ancient world continue, the country is retaining its old world charm and gently blending in with the 21st century,” Vasquez said. 


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Tags: africa, cairo, egypt, north africa

Photo credit: Egypt's new administrative capital (shown here in a photo illustration) is scheduled to open in 2023 Karim El Minabawy

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