With global advertising firm J. Walter Thompson making headlines across the world after scoring a historic deal with Egypt's tourism ministry, we wonder if that money could have been better spent to truly accommodate tourists.
Egyptian government seems to have a lot of spare change these days, from the monstrosity of the inauguration of the Suez Canal to choreographing and buying fighter jets and filling them up with red, black and white spray paint and, the never ending constant in our lives, the in-your-face, paid nauseating propaganda pieces in the pages of the world's press. While we're all for investing in our beloved Egypt if it makes a difference, we seem to be spending like newly rich sons of Arab princes at the exotic animal zoo.
In our most recent dollar burning ceremony, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism has struck a mere USD $66 million deal with JWT to promote tourism in Egypt. Now there’s nothing wrong with bringing back tourists to experience one of the world’s most ancient civilisations. What is wrong, however, is that there’s a big list of things we should have done with that lump sum prior to inviting people into our backyard.
1.TRASH TRASH AND TRASH.
We’ve all had the occasional foreign guest that we’ve had to cringingly take to the pyramids, only to leave embarrassed at the overall disappointing experience. But mainly we recall parts where the wind was blowing and the most sight-grabbing thing wasn’t one of the pyramids but rather a mini-whirlwind of trash going around in circles reminiscent of that one scene in American Beauty. So maybe a fifth of that money could have been put to use by not just cleaning up and around all the tourist sights, but around the whole country, so we don’t end up looking like disrespectful jerks.
A common sentiment that all tourists unanimously feel during their visit is being ripped off; from cab drivers to the souvenir vendors. The government could have run an awareness campaign on how to deal with guests in our land, how to be respectful and not pushy. We don't want people to visit and vow to never set foot in Egypt again.
The airport is like our greeting card; from the moment one sets foot in the airport that’s when they start forming an initial feeling and a first impression. Although our airports have gotten recent revamps, it seems like the money didn’t go where it really matters. We could have more booths for more speedy entry, nicer staff at security checks, easy to access WiFi, more organised methods of transportation to designated areas with set prices where there’s not any room for methods of ripping people off.
Our streets are chaotic enough as it is with all the angry drivers, with their fume-emitting vehicles on congested streets. Unknowing tourists are usually shocked by the state of traffic in Egypt's big cities, so why don't we spend some money to A) educate drivers more thoroughly; B) train authorities to apply the law correctly and C) fix bottle necks, pot holes and the slew of other infrastructural problems plaguing our streets.
5.Arts & Culture
Once you’ve visited all the tourist hot spots, which are managed by thieving morons, and because you didn’t just take a plane all the way to Egypt to quit after the pyramids, you’re left with not much to do but drink and eat from an overpriced menu at your hotel. How about alternatives to Sakia where you can experience live music or art galleries or exhibitions featuring local or international artists. How about an alternative to the opera house in Zamalek, and generaly more nightlife experiences that don’t involve getting wasted?
6.Souvenirs and Shopping
We have legendary cotton and Pharoanic Egyptian designs or prints can make for very cool artwork and souvenirs. However, in a market that hasn’t seen development in years, our gift shops look like a joke, the quality isn’t something to be proud of, and the prices are just absurd. Employing young creative designers with high quality material should be a priority given the resources, both human and physical, at hand.