Launch of the African Tourism Forum in Sharm El Sheikh with the Presence of Ministers and Officials

Participants Emphasize the Importance of the Tourism Sector in Developing National Income Resources

The African Tourism Forum (ATF24Egypt) kicked off yesterday morning in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh. Organized by the global Rixos Group and the Turkish GMT Exhibition and Conference Organizing Company, the event brought together numerous ministers, senior officials, and investors from the tourism sector in Egypt and other African countries. Also in attendance were African ambassadors, Egyptian and African businessmen, and more than 2,000 international tourism professionals from 35 countries.
This forum, the first of its kind in Africa, aims to enhance cooperation in the tourism sector among African countries, attract foreign investments, and create new job opportunities for African youth.
The opening ceremony was attended by Dr. Ahmed Issa, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities; Major General Khaled Fouda, Governor of South Sinai; Fettah Tamince, Founder and Chairman of Rixos Hotels; Nasser Abdel Latif, Owner of Rixos Egypt; Selcuk Meral, Director of the Turkish company GMT; and Dr. Yousry El Sharkawy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African-Egyptian Businessmen Association. The opening ceremony was attended by Dr. Ahmed Issa, the Egyptian Minister of Tourism; Major General Khaled Fouda, Governor of South Sinai; Fettah Tamince, Founder and Chairman of Rixos Hotels; Nasser Abdel Latif, Owner of Rixos Egypt; Selcuk Meral, Director of the Turkish company GMT; and Dr. Yousry El Sharkawy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African-Egyptian Businessmen Association.
In his speech at the forum, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Ahmed Issa, emphasized the importance of establishing and coordinating unified policies to maximize shared interests and enhance intra-African tourism. He stated that this forum serves as a professional gathering and an effective participatory platform to highlight the distinctive and unique tourism potential and products of the ancient African continent. It provides an opportunity to promote joint tourism cooperation among African countries and encourages experts, professionals, and investors in the tourism sector to collaborate in developing the tourism industry in Africa and enhancing its role in the global tourism sector.
Minister Issa pointed out that this forum and exhibition come at a time when our African continent is experiencing significant success in restoring inbound tourism levels, having regained 96% of its 2019 levels, according to the World Tourism Organization report. “The report described tourism in Africa as the fastest growing in 2023, which makes us all proud and motivates us to continue working on enhancing further mechanisms of joint African cooperation and integration to chart a roadmap for the tourism industry in Africa,” he added.
The tourism industry in Egypt has achieved positive results recently, thanks to the implementation of the National Tourism Development Strategy. This strategy includes a set of policies and general plans to develop the industry, aiming for an annual growth rate of 25% to 30%, targeting 30 million tourists by 2028. The strategy addresses key challenges hindering tourism growth, such as increasing flight capacity in cooperation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation, improving the investment climate in the tourism sector, especially in hospitality, and enhancing the overall tourist experience and service quality.
In light of this strategy, Egypt set a record for incoming tourist numbers in 2023, with 14.906 million visitors, surpassing the previous peak of 14.731 million tourists in 2010.
Major General Khaled Fouda, Governor of South Sinai, emphasized the importance of this significant forum due to the vital role tourism plays in the economies of African and global nations, especially amid regional and international challenges. He highlighted the necessity of cooperation among tourism and investment sectors, as evidenced by the participation of over 2000 attendees worldwide, including many African ambassadors, tourism experts, and travel agencies from more than 30 countries.
Governor Fouda stated that African countries possess immense potential to become top global tourism destinations, with thousands of kilometers of the world’s best coastline, numerous natural reserves, lakes, waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, robust infrastructure, international airlines, extensive road networks, and a variety of hotels catering to all tourist levels, such as those found in Sharm El Sheikh.
Dr. Yousry El-Sharkawy, President of the Egyptian African Businessmen Association, remarked during the opening of the African Tourism Forum that this event is a historic opportunity to strengthen cooperation between African countries in tourism and attract foreign investments. He stressed Africa’s vast tourism potential, from stunning natural scenery to rich historical and cultural sites, and the need to work together to develop tourism infrastructure, promote African destinations, and offer high-quality services to tourists.

Fettah Tamince, founder of Rixos, highlighted the significance of the African Tourism Forum in developing the tourism sector in Africa and achieving sustainable development. He praised Sharm El Sheikh as one of the top tourist destinations in Egypt and Africa. Tamince personally recommended Egypt as a tourist destination due to its extensive tourist attractions, favorable year-round climate, and valuable human resources, suggesting that Egypt could attract 60 million tourists annually.
The first session of the African Tourism Forum, titled “How to Create a Luxury Brand,” featured speakers such as Gaurav Bhushan, Co-CEO of Ennismore and CEO of Lifestyle & Leisure Brands at Accor Hotels, and Fettah Tamince, founder of Rixos Hotels.
The African Tourism Forum’s program includes various events and discussions on topics such as sustainable, cultural, and digital tourism, tourism investment, marketing, and human resource development in the tourism sector. Workshops cover subjects like starting a successful tourism project, using social media for marketing, creating engaging content, and providing excellent customer service.
The accompanying exhibition showcases tourism companies, hotels, and tourist destinations from across Africa. The forum will continue tomorrow, May 21, with more discussions, workshops, presentations, and networking sessions.
The forum aims to develop tangible recommendations to enhance tourism cooperation between African countries and attract foreign investments, essential for ensuring the sustainability of the tourism sector in Africa. The African Tourism Forum is crucial to greatly contribute to the development of the tourism sector and sustainable development in African countries.