As a land of ancient pharaohs, golden deserts, and the captivating Nile, Egypt has always been a magnetic allure for travelers worldwide. However, an emerging trend that's redefining the tourism experience in this historic land is yacht tourism. With its breathtaking coastline, Egypt is becoming a hotspot for luxury yachting fastly, providing an added dimension to the country's diverse tourism sector.
Why yacht tourism matters for Egypt
Yacht tourism offers a unique way to explore Egypt's scenic coastline, from the Mediterranean charm of Alexandria to the Red Sea's crystal-clear waters. It's a sector with massive potential, combining luxury travel, water sports, and exclusive exploration of marine biodiversity. Additionally, yacht tourism has the potential to attract high-net-worth tourists, thereby bringing in significant revenues to the country.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Egypt's tourism industry saw a steep decline, with revenues dropping around 70% to US$ 4 billion in 2020, and visitor numbers decreasing significantly. However, the sector is showing signs of a strong rebound. The Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Issa, recently announced a 30% increase in visitor numbers this year, with ambitious plans for tourism revenues of US$30 billion by 2025. Yacht tourism is expected to play a significant role in achieving these targets, creating a niche for luxury, private, and isolated travel experiences.
The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) reported a 64% increase in yachts crossing the canal in the first half of 2023, showcasing its enhanced berthing services and participation in the 32nd edition of the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) - a first for the SCA.
Government initiatives to boost yacht tourism
The Egyptian government has made significant efforts to promote the yacht tourism sector, a key component of its broader tourism industry. Recognizing the potential of yacht tourism, the government has embarked on several strategic initiatives to make the country more appealing and accessible to yacht tourists from around the world.
A major part of the plan involves transforming the physical infrastructure catering to yacht tourism. With the aim to attract global yacht tourists, the government is focused on revamping its coastal areas, expedite permits, renovate existing tourist attractions and building new ports and marinas that will significantly expand the capacity for yachts. A statement from the SCA highlighted the new Ismailia Yacht Marina, Egypt's first for yacht tourism, set to be inaugurated in two months. This green marina provides essential services including fuel supply and maintenance. Furthermore, in line with global trends towards sustainability, the government is working on the development of the first green yacht marina in the Suez Canal, which will be powered by renewable energy.
An important development in this direction of the promotion of yacht tourism is the expansion of the tourist visa duration from one to three months. This change is expected to encourage tourists to stay longer and explore more of what Egypt has to offer, thus boosting the local economy. As part of this initiative, the government is actively reaching out to other nations to ensure a smooth implementation of the extended visa policy.
Navigating the administrative aspects of yacht tourism is being simplified as well. In a move to expedite processes, the government is streamlining the issuance of permits and making it easier for tourists to gain access to Egypt's stunning coastal attractions. To this end, a new digital platform is being introduced which will allow for efficient management of permits, submission of documents, payments of fees, and receipt of invoices. This digital transformation gives Egypt a competitive edge over other yacht tourism destinations, providing a smooth and hassle-free experience for tourists.
These concerted efforts by the Egyptian government underline its commitment to positioning Egypt as a leading destination for yacht tourism, leveraging its rich heritage and stunning natural beauty. By creating a supportive environment for yacht tourism, the government is opening the doors to increased economic benefits and international recognition for Egypt.
Economic benefits of yacht tourism
Yacht tourism can be a significant boost for local economies. It can stimulate job creation in areas such as yacht maintenance, hospitality, and tour guiding. The development of marinas and other yacht tourism infrastructure can also generate construction and long-term operational jobs.
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities aims for EGP 7.4 billion in tourism sector investments in FY 2022/23. A portion of this investment could be channeled into improving yacht tourism facilities and services, thus further stimulating the local economy.
In addition, the influx of wealthy tourists attracted to yacht tourism can lead to an increase in spending at local businesses such as restaurants, stores and other tourist attractions.
Egypt's unique offerings for yacht tourism
Egypt provides a unique blend of historical richness and natural beauty, making it an ideal destination for yacht tourism. The Red Sea coast offers some of the world's best diving and snorkeling sites, attracting yacht tourists eager to explore its vibrant marine life. Cities like Hurghada, home to the largest recreational water park in Egypt and the Middle East, "Never Land City," offer a plethora of entertainment options for yacht tourists. Moreover, concerts by internationally acclaimed bands such as Maroon 5 and the Black Eyed Peas, as well as fashion shows by Dior and Stefano Ricci, further emphasize Egypt's appeal as a high-end destination.
As Egypt continues its efforts to rebound from the pandemic-induced tourism downturn, yacht tourism offers an exciting avenue for growth. By investing in this sector and enhancing its maritime infrastructure, Egypt can attract a new demographic of tourists, stimulate local economies, and further cement its status as a global tourism destination.
Egypt: A yachter's yaradise - the top destinations
- Hurghada: This Red Sea city is famous for its stunning coral reefs and marine life. With multiple marinas, it's a hot spot for yachts and is also known for its bustling nightlife, making it perfect for those looking for both relaxation and entertainment.
- Sharm El-Sheikh: This resort town, located at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, is known for its clear waters, beautiful coral reefs, and a rich variety of marine life. It offers numerous marinas for yachts to dock and is a hub for water sports.
- El Gouna: Often called the Venice of the Red Sea, El Gouna offers luxury and leisure with its interconnected islands and lagoons. Its modern marina is well-equipped to accommodate yachts of various sizes.
- Marsa Alam: This increasingly popular destination is known for its tranquility and untouched marine life. It provides easy access to some of the best diving spots in the Red Sea.
- Port Ghalib: It has one of the largest artificial marinas in the world, making it an attractive destination for yacht owners. This integrated resort community also offers luxury accommodations and amenities.
- Alexandria: While it's located on the Mediterranean Sea rather than the Red Sea, Alexandria offers a unique mix of history and marine beauty. The city's marina is a modern recreation of the ancient lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
- Suez Canal Area: While not a traditional resort destination, the Suez Canal offers a unique experience as yachts navigate the link between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
- Ain Sokhna: Located on the western shore of the Red Sea, Ain Sokhna is a popular destination for yachting due to its proximity to Cairo, allowing for quick weekend trips.
Setting sail: Egypt's renowned yacht marinas
Egypt has currently 23 marinas. Here are some examples:
Porto Marina Resort: Located on the Egyptian North Coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, it features the first International Yacht Marina on the eastern part of North Africa
Port Said Yacht Club: This marina is one of the few options for staying while awaiting a Suez Canal transit. It can accommodate superyachts up to 40m LOA with a maximum draft of 4m
Hurghada Marina: A popular marina in Egypt, known for its vibrant atmosphere and beautiful surroundings
Abu Tig Marina: Located in El Gouna, this marina offers a range of facilities and services for yacht owners and visitors
Sharm El Sheikh Cruise Port: This marina is a gateway to the Red Sea and offers a variety of amenities for yacht owners and tourists
Naama Bay Yacht Club: Situated in Sharm El Sheikh, this marina is known for its stunning views and excellent facilities
Luxor Cruise Port: While not a traditional yacht marina, Luxor Cruise Port offers docking facilities for river cruises on the Nile
Port Ghalib Marina: Port Ghalib Marina is located on the Red Sea coast and is known for its luxury facilities and services. It offers berthing for yachts of various sizes.
Alexandria Marina: Alexandria Marina is situated on the North Coast of Egypt and offers yacht services like berthing and maintenance. Its location near the city center gives easy access to attractions and amenities.
Port Said Yacht Marina: Port Said Yacht Marina is located on the Mediterranean Sea and offers yacht berthing, fueling, dining, and recreational facilities, with easy access to Port Said city attractions.
Sidi Abdel Rahman Marina: Sidi Abdel Rahman Marina is situated on the North Coast of Egypt and is known for its picturesque surroundings. It offers berthing facilities for yachts and provides services such as maintenance and repair. The marina is located near the town of El Alamein, which is famous for its historical significance.
Wadi Dome Marina: Wadi Dome Marina is located in Ain Sukhna, a popular beach resort town on the Red Sea coast. The marina offers berthing options for yachts and provides amenities such as fueling stations, restaurants, and recreational facilities. Ain Sukhna is known for its beautiful beaches and is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts.
Tala Bay Marina: Tala Bay Marina is situated in Aqaba, Jordan, which is located on the Red Sea coast. Although not in Egypt, it is worth mentioning as it is a popular destination for yacht owners in the region. The marina offers berthing facilities and provides services such as maintenance and repair. Aqaba is known for its clear waters and vibrant marine life, making it a popular spot for diving and snorkeling.
Additionally the Ismailia Yacht Marina is going to become Egypt's first green marina, playing a key role in the Suez Canal's environmental initiatives. Spanning 25,000m², the "Green Marina" project will use renewable and alternative energy, including green hydrogen. Located strategically along the Suez Canal, the marina is part of Egypt's National Climate Strategy 2050. Its development aims to attract international tourism and connect cultural facets of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
Sailing the sands of time: Key events in Egypt's yacht tourism history since 2019
- 2019: The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism introduces a comprehensive plan to diversify the tourism sector, highlighting niche markets like yachting, ecotourism, and religious tourism.
- Early 2020: The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic hits the global tourism sector. Despite the setback, Egypt continues to push forward with its plans.
- Mid-2020: The Egyptian government announces a significant investment in the upgrading and expansion of marinas in key yachting destinations like Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh, and El Gouna.
- Late 2020: The "Green Star" certification program is launched, which aims to ensure environmental standards in all tourist destinations, including marinas and yachting facilities.
- Early 2021: Egypt's Minister of Tourism and Antiquities holds meetings with major yachting and luxury cruise companies, aiming to attract more yacht tourism to the country.
- Mid-2021: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli give directives to draw up a strategic plan to develop yacht tourism. In collaboration with various tourism companies, the Egyptian government starts promoting yacht tourism packages internationally, focusing on markets like Russia, Germany, and China.
- Late 2021: Egypt announces the completion of several marina upgrades and the introduction of new services for yacht tourists, including exclusive tours of nearby archaeological sites and natural parks.
- 2022: Egypt plans to become a global yacht tourism magnet. The first large-scale yachting event is held in Egypt, attracting a considerable number of international participants. The event gets wide media coverage, effectively promoting Egypt as a prime yachting destination.
- 2023: With the success of the previous year's events and the growth of the yacht tourism sector, Egypt plans more similar events and continues its efforts to develop and promote yachting facilities and services. Among these, Egypt enforces a new regulation introducing an extended 3-month visa to encourage yacht tourists to visit the country. Additionally Tourists can get visas within 30 minutes at Egyptian ports.