Egyptian tourism has lately benefitted from COVID-19 disruption with more Africans, especially Nigerians, visiting Cairo for leisure.

Country Manager for EgyptAir, Muharram Abdel Rahman, gave this hint, adding that tourism traffic from Nigeria lately spiked by 400 per cent.

Rahman, at a meeting with the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), noted that the airline started flying in Nigeria 56 years ago, though only 50 Nigerian tourists travel weekly.

He noted that when governments of Nigeria and UAE banned flights to and fro Dubai, “EgyptAir saw an opportunity and decided to take advantage of it by collaborating with NANTA on how to increase trade and tourism between Nigeria and Egypt.”

“After our meeting with NANTA, we started advertising Egypt as a favourable destination for Nigerians for tourism and trade. In the past, we used to have about 50 tourists weekly but now that number has grown to about 250 people visiting Egypt from Nigeria weekly and our flights are usually full,” Rahman said.

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Egypt’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Ihab Moustafa Awad, who was the special guest at the meeting, added that in the past, Egypt’s embassy in Abuja used to receive about 30 visa applications daily but that since July last year, the number has increased to 300 applications.

The envoy, however, acknowledged the slow pace of the applications attributing it to lack of capacity both at the Egypt Embassy in Nigeria and the Nigerian embassy in Egypt.

He noted that his administration was working on an electronic visa that would make it easier for applicants to send in their applications from anywhere in the country instead of traveling to Abuja.

President of NANTA, Susan Akporiaye, said the most popular destination travel agents do sell is Dubai, but when the ban on flights happened, the association had to collaborate with African carriers to explore better options.

“Since we started the campaign, Egypt Air has had full flights and we have generated lots of traffic going to Egypt and those who go there come back with good things to say. They tell us that they never thought they could get clothes of better quality in Africa. It has been an easy sell because you can market it to every sector in the country from education to medicine to fashion to entertainment because the country is rich in culture.

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“However, one of the bottlenecks we experienced is the issue of visa processing. We want to have a more visa friendly process so that Nigerians won’t forget about going to Egypt now that Dubai has opened up,” Akporiaye said.