Adapting To Gen Z: Evolving Tourism Trends In Egypt

June 8, 2024


This article first appeared in June’s print edition of Business Monthly.

With about 5,000 years of recorded history and more than 2,900 kilometers of shorelines along two seas, tourists coming to Egypt are spoiled with choices. In November, Tourism Minister Ahmed Eissa said the sector grew “eight times higher” than the global tourism rate through October,” reported state-owned Egypt Today.

That high growth rate is vital for government plans to double the number of tourist arrivals to 30 million annually over the next four years.

To sustain the sector’s long-term positive growth prospects, the government and tourist service providers need to attract new generations of travelers. “Younger generations are leading the charge when it comes to a shift in consumer spending habits surrounding … travel,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, a travel agency, said in April in a blog. “Gen Z and millennial travelers are taking their trips to the next level by going farther and spending more than other generations.”

Next-gen travelers

A survey by Google found “millennials and Gen Zs, or Next-Gen, are the most eager to travel … These adventurous types consider travel to be vital.” Research published in April by AAA Travel and Bread Financial, a credit card service company, found 65% of Gen Z and 58% of millennial respondents either traveled in the past 12 months or plan to travel in the next 12 months.

They prefer taking “water-centric vacations [to escape] heatwaves and climate change,” Travel Weekly Asia, a news portal, reported in October. Other popular themes include self-improvement and reboot retreats to help them deal with global instability and hectic lives, embracing the unknown and venturing off the beaten track, according to the report.

“To afford [their trips], approximately two in five millennial (42%) and Gen Z (37%) travelers are willing to dip into their savings,” the AAA research said.  If necessary, 29% of Gen Zs and 33% of millennials said they would consider a side hustle to pay for their travel, the report said. “The younger generations are also getting creative at cutting costs,” the report said. “They would travel internationally to score cheaper tickets.”

Research from MySmartJourney, a vacation planning platform, found that “not only are millennials [and Gen Zers] more inclined to spend their time and money going out of town, they are also interested in getting their friends along for the ride.”

The report explained that travel for past generations “used to be more of a couple or family activity … Younger travelers prefer adventuring with their friend groups.” That includes “walking mountain trails, swimming at the beach or taking some time to walk around historic destinations.”

Given their tight budget, “it is not uncommon [for them] to … chip in and rent a bungalow or an Airbnb,” MySmartJourney’s research said. Yet, they can be picky, choosing destinations with “common spaces to mingle and relax,” as well as private areas. “Many friend groups will also be delighted by having access to activities they can partake in together,” the report said.

In addition, tourist service providers must cater to those who mix work and leisure — called bleisure travelers. “Many people nowadays only need their laptop, a cup of coffee and an internet connection to work,” said MySmartJourney. “That means they can sit and ‘go’ to work wherever the wind takes them.”

An undated paid advertorial by Quest Apartment Hotels on the BBC website said this hybrid model is growing in popularity. “Technology has blurred the boundaries between work and play, professional and personal, career and downtime.” Those travelers include entrepreneurs, full-time managers and executives, and freelancers shopping for their next gig.

MySmartJourney’s research said when bleisure travelers visit or live abroad, they “tend to have a burgeoning interest in local culture and cultural activities and will greatly appreciate having information on local amenities.” They also like “trying new and exciting foods.”

Regardless of the destination or purpose, Next-Gen travelers want “luxury on a budget, with 56% relying on [artificial intelligence] to upgrade their experiences,” Travel Weekly Asia said. That means “destinations with a lower cost of living” are increasingly popular.

Virtual worlds

Aside from “creating digital tourism destination experiences with QR codes and NFC technology,” MySmartJourney said, government agencies and holiday service providers need to interact digitally with Next-Gen travelers.

They need to “join the conversation on social media,” MySmartJourney’s research said. “You’d be surprised at the number of people who wish to do something just because they saw it on social media and liked it … There’s nothing like a picture to commemorate a perfect vacation.”

Additionally, websites and mobile apps targeting tourists should contain maps, calendars, notifications and directions to events, festivals and other attractions, as well as other information visitors might find helpful during their stay. The next step is to promote those platforms and their content on social media and private messaging lists (emails or apps like WhatsApp).

Timely, an events management firm, stressed in a March 2023 blog post the importance of having a reliable and detailed yearly event calendar published online for maximum engagement. That calendar should include free tours and event passes, as they are “one of the easiest ways to attract tourists.”

Tourists also should get substantial discounts when bundling ticket purchases. “People budget for trips and plan their travels around special discounts,” said Timely. “Incorporate different price ranges and discount tiers, such as early bird specials, tiered tickets and VIP tickets … Through trial and error, you’ll eventually … discern what appeals the most to your audience.”

Eco-tourism, of course

COVID-19’s lockdowns in 2020 drew attention to humans’ impact on the environment. In March of that year, the BBC reported that New York City officials said pollution dropped by “nearly 50% because of measures to contain the virus.” Meanwhile, clouds with nitrogen dioxide, which can cause chronic lung disease, “faded away over northern Italy, … Spain and the U.K.,” the BBC report added.

Emissions in China fell 25% at the start of 2020, reported the BBC. That led to the “proportion of days with ‘good air quality’ [to increase] 11.4% compared with the same time the previous year in 337 cities across China,” according to government data.

Such news further increased individuals’ awareness of the need to be eco-friendly. In a January blog on Linkedin, Charlain Delator of Atlantis Resorts wrote, “Due to the urgent problems posed by habitat destruction, species extinction and climate change, tourists are looking for methods to reduce their carbon footprint and support places that [prioritize] environmental preservation.”

To create such a destination, a U.N. paper in October 2022 said governments and businesses have to “ditch single-use plastics,” be “water-wise,” market 100% locally produced goods, create certifications for “ethical operators,” develop tourist-friendly public transport options, promote national parks and sanctuaries.

Despite apparent similarities in Next-Gen preferences, “these generations are not a cohesive group, but diverse people with various preferences and behavioral styles,” Galagents Cruises said in June 2022. “Understanding [the] target market, offering value-added solutions and building their trust and loyalty are the keys to success.”