Egypt Launches EBRD-UNWTO Tourism Recovery Assistance Package
By Nibal Zgheib
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed acute strain on global tourism. To boost the recovery of the sector, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), joined forces in June to support countries that are among the most dependent on tourism for jobs and economic growth.
Their global technical assistance package builds on measures already taken by the EBRD under its crisis Solidarity Package to support existing clients in their handling of the losses caused by COVID-19 lockdowns. The aim now is to expand on that client-level support package with country-level technical assistance to facilitate the fast and sustainable recovery of tourism. On 12 January 2021, Egypt signed a national package geared to its own needs.
Egypt’s Ministries of International Cooperation, and Tourism and Antiquities have engaged with UNWTO and the EBRD to ensure their national priorities are addressed. Assistance in Egypt will include training in impact analysis, measurement and monitoring of COVID-19 impacts in the tourism sector; the development of tourism recovery incentive programmes; reviews of the effectiveness of operational protocols on safety, hygiene and security activity; work on building the resilience of tourism enterprises as they adapt to the COVID-19 reality, including the required safety and hygiene protocols, by developing tailor-made training programmes; as well as institutional strengthening to better coordinate the recovery and further growth of Egypt’s tourism.
Over the past three years, Egypt has turned around the sharp drop in tourist arrivals that followed the Arab uprising of 2011. After numbers fell from 14 million visitors in 2010 to a low of 5.3 million in 2016, the trend reversed. Numbers have since climbed to 8.3 million visitors in 2017, nearly 11.3 million in 2018 and 13.1 million in 2019. However the impact of the COVID-19 crisis has reversed this trend and is stalling the tourism sector in the country.
The Technical Cooperation Package, 90 per cent funded by the EBRD and 10 per cent by the UNWTO, will be delivered by August 2021.
Similar support is currently ongoing or envisaged for a number of other countries with economies that are highly dependent on tourism, including Jordan, Morocco, Greece, Croatia, Tunisia, Turkey, Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Lebanon, Montenegro and Uzbekistan.
The joint EBRD-UNWTO response was designed in line with the three pillars of UNWTO’s Tourism Recovery Technical Assistance Package: economic recovery, institutional strengthening and building resilience, as well as marketing and promotion.
The UNWTO and the EBRD are longstanding partners, having signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in 2015, which they renewed in 2019.
The EBRD is committing all of its activity in 2020-21 to helping its regions counter the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with investment expected to reach up to €21 billion(US$25.53billion).