Egyptian desert tourism promotion goes full blast


After breaking the record for the fastest crossing of the Great Sand Sea last March 5, Egyptian adventurer Hesham Nessim plans to set another record on November 2009 in the Western Desert driving from Siwa to Abu Simbel.

Nessim will be driving the “fastest” vehicle ever to cross the Egyptian Western Desert. If this adventure were to succeed, it would be registered on the Guinness Book of World Records. The Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority sponsors the event highlighting desert/ valley tourism and countless natural wonders of Egypt, in line with its current strategy to promote the desert tourism product.

The Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority launched its pilot project dubbed Desert Tourism at the International Tourism Fair in Berlin (ITB) last March. The Egyptian desert is considered one of the most unique tourism products Egypt can offer guests worldwide. From geology, landscape, Great Sand Sea, Red Sea mountains, cultural highlights, 35 eco-lodges (of which 10 to 15 can be marketed internationally), monumental and pre-historic sites on the oasis of Kharga, Bahariya, Siwa, Fayoum and the Eastern Desert, in addition to quality service with good price per quality ratio, Egypt’s desert flows with abundant offers.

Promotional materials produced include a special brochure for desert and oasis and a map of the Western Desert. For the first time, Egypt ran a booth in the Adventure Hall at the ITB, along with five tour operators specialized in desert tourism. A database has also been created to include a list of protected areas in Egypt, a list of tour operators and international firms specialized in desert tourism, a list of the most popular eco-lodges, a list of programs on desert activities, an environmental study on the human impact on natural treasures, a list of Egyptian scientists specialized in desert studies, in addition to a comprehensive portfolio of Egypt’s popular destination, the White Desert. An extensive analysis on the Egyptian and competitive markets has also been done through interviewing tour operators specialized in this type of tourism. An association was created during the second half of February 2008 that included tour operators specialized in desert tourism or the Egyptian Desert Keepers.

A list of desert programs offered by the most renowned Egyptian tour operators in desert activities, in addition to foreign travel agencies that organize safari trips to Egypt, and studies about the competitive markets (Tunisia – Morocco – Jordan) were created to help promoting the desert. The committee designed a brand logo to raise awareness on desert activities, as well as establishing a code of ethics, code of conduct and membership qualifications.

A desert map was designed to show the important sites of the Egyptian deserts and protected parks with models of routes specified in desert safari programs.

The project redefines desert tourism product from a marketing perspective and prepares the desert highlights for launching into an international scheme. The initiative promotes the desert activities, while preserving the desert’s natural resources.