This summer, the superyacht Aviva, one of the most expensive in the world, docked at the Hurghada seaport, reaching Red Sea waters after its departure from Thailand. The arrival of the vessel, belonging to Tottenham Hotspur FC owner and businessman, Joe Lewis, underscored the burgeoning attractiveness and potential of Egypt’s seaside communities, ports and harbors as destinations in the worldwide circuit of luxury sailing yachts.
The hosting of Aviva was well received by the guests and crew of the ship, with the captain lavishing praise on the reception and treatment of the Egyptian authorities, and the timely completion of docking procedures. The captain stressed that Egypt was a port-of-call in which authorities are making visible efforts to become more facilitative towards visiting tourist yachts.
The government has in recent years zeroed in on the promise of this exclusive yet significant sub-section of Egypt’s vast tourism industry and has put into motion a framework to encourage, develop and cement the nation’s status as an internationally renowned yachting hub.
Over $22 billion of inflows to Egyptian GDP stem from Egypt’s tourism industry alone, according to Statista. To boost the sector, Egypt is pushing ahead with plans to further tap into this much-needed sector to further attract foreign exchange investment.
In September, the Higher Ministerial Committee put forth a strategy to “maximize yacht tourism in Egypt,” in the words of Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly. This was with the aim of attracting foreign yachts to Egypt’s ports as do places like Bodrum on Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline, or perhaps even one day on a magnitude of Greece’s ultra-popular yachting hub of Mykonos, or the ritzy St. Tropez on France’s Cote d’Azur.
With over 2,900 kilometers of coastline across its northern, eastern and peninsular flanks, Egypt boasts clear geographical advantages, in tandem with the natural advantages of pristine waters, prime diving spots and water sports destinations, and an almost year-round sunny climate. These advantages are bolstered by infrastructural benefits that exist in the form of vibrant resort communities from El Gouna on the Red Sea to Sharm El Sheikh in Sinai to the ever-urbanizing Sahel on the northern coast. Throughout these seaside locales, there are 23 yacht marinas, the largest of which can host up to 188 yachts being those of Hurghada and El Gouna, according to local media reports.
Porto Marina on the North Coast, the first international yacht marina in eastern North Africa, can accommodate an impressive 1,400 boats, while Marassi Marina, a more exclusive alternative, has berths for 267 vessels, Emaar Misr said on its website.
“We are proud of the opening of the first international marina in northern Egypt. It will put the coast on the map for yachting tourism worldwide,” said Mohamed Alabbar, managing director of Emaar Properties said in a statement. This new port, located in Marassi on the North Coast will allow an increase in employment with the prospect of 180,000 jobs to be added in the booming yachting services sector, the report said.
Plans are in effect to construct more marinas, especially in the under-construction megaproject of New Alamein, which will bolster the new city’s desirability as a Mediterranean hotspot in the long term.
Heralding these various initiatives aimed at revolutionizing the yachting industry in Egypt is the country’s first ‘green marina’ slated to be completely powered by renewable energy. This project will span an area of 25,000 square meters with a capacity to accommodate 65 yachts and will be constructed off the coast of Ismailia on the Suez Canal, it will also include a hotel, trading zone and other necessary amenities, according to state-run Al Ahram.
Ahead of its hosting of the COP27 conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt’s ‘green marina’ project is one of the latest in a series of initiatives announced by the government to address carbon emissions targets and promote the use of renewable energy sources in line with its National Climate Strategy 2050 roadmap.
Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), announced in September that efforts are underway to establish an 850-meter esplanade and marina that would accommodate up to 75 yachts in Port Said, and that plans are underway to increase the capacity of the Ismailia marina to 60 berths instead of the existing 12.
Earlier in September, Egypt inaugurated an online platform aimed at maximizing its yacht tourism readiness by facilitating the regulation of the entry of yachting trips. The new digital platform will serve as a one-stop shop for yachters who can now submit the necessary documentation needed to be approved for entry, pay for fixed fees on all state-owned berths, passenger terminals and tourist ports, and receive invoices within three days of application.
The new regulations set daily docking fees at $4 to $14 per meter length of the yacht, with longer yachts incurring a higher per meter rate, with fees applicable to yachts 10 meters long and above, Ain Sokhna’s Wadi El Dom Marina Director Ihab Taher told Enterprise. The Ministry of Transport is working in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities for the launch of a comprehensive marketing campaign to advertise and promote the country’s concerted efforts to position Egypt as a regional and international yachting hub.
The platform also allows yacht owners to choose between mooring at public commercial ports or at private marinas. These efforts are part of a recently developed plan to leverage the country’s unique strategic location and coastal stretches. “A national scheme has been implemented since August 2021 to raise the efficiency of existing ports and marinas and to construct new ones in areas important to tourism,” said a September report from Ahram Online.
According to Khaled El Anany, former Minister of Tourism, visitors disembarking from luxury yachts spend on average 94% more than the average tourist, according to an August article from Al Ahram. With its array of existing assets spanning geographical, natural, infrastructural and touristic spheres, Egypt is already well positioned to tackle the yachting industry in a bid to become one of its global destinations in the not-too-distant future.