Alexandria was recently chosen by the Arab Tourism Ministers Council as the 2010 capital of the Arab tourist cities. A celebration will take place next January to honour Alexandria in its new role as capital of the Arab tourism. Bandar Ben Fahd, head of the Arab Tourism Organisation, says that Alexandria earned this title due to the recent modernisation of its tourist sites, and because it has become a popular destination for family tourism. Arabs especially, he says, feel comfortable there since they find themselves within a milieu which respects their customs and traditions.
Alexandria governor Adel Labib commented that the number of tourists who visited Alexandria during the last season reached some 12 million. Alexandria’s maritime passenger station was recently renovated and modernised, and an Egyptian American Turkish project is currently ongoing to manage and market the station to international maritime companies to make it a thriving transit tourist hub.
General Labib says that Alexandria’s new title is well earned. The city offers its visitors excellent beach tourism as well as plentiful historical sites that date back to Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Coptic and Islamic eras. A project currently under study for a museum for submerged antiquities will offer visitors the opportunity to view the stunning antiquities discovered under the waters of the Eastern Harbour and Abu-Qir Bay, through a walk in plexiglass tubes under water.
The growing number of tourists, General Labib says, has acted as a driving force to hasten a construction project for an integrated network of roads to facilitate traffic.
Alexandria governor cites several tourist projects in the pipeline. Some 26 feddans of land, he says, have been allocated for the establishment of a ‘fun forest’ south west of the city. The first ‘Arab Village’ is being erected over some 6000 square metres where each Arab country will be able to display samples of its products, arts and heritage. Ben Fahd explained that another Arab Village will be founded in parallel in Jeddah. Near the North Coast international road, 150,000 feddans have been allotted for a new Exhibition Centre. Another 250 feddans are planned to host a comprehensive medical project which aims at encouraging medical tourism.
General Ihab Farouq, head of the Central Administration for Tourism in Alexandria, says that the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) strengthened the position of Alexandria as an international tourist destination; it helped broaden the cultural spectrum of Egypt. He says Alexandria is an excellent spot for cultural tourism, through its annual hosting and organising international conventions, festivals and exhibitions, including the Alexandria Biennale, the Alexandria Film Festival, Mediterranean events, as well as countless events held at the BA. To say nothing, he says, of the Alexandria Opera (Sayed Darwish Theatre).
Alexandria is also striving, General Farouq says, to be a hub of yachting tourism by establishing two marinas in the bays at San Stefano and Abu Qir.