Problems on hold
In two Watani editorials on 9 and 23 September 2018, I tackled the seasonal dilemma of Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, commonly known as the North Coast, a favourite Egyptian summer holiday destination for its serene natural beauty and mellow climate. Once summer is over, however, holidaymakers head home leaving the splendid resorts desolate for some eight or nine months till the following summer. I proposed an answer to the eight-month stagnation, which would endow the region with an added value that would moreover constitute a significant contribution to national income, provide all-year-round job opportunities, and yield sustainable revenue.
In my opinion, the answer to the seasonal dilemma of the North Coast hinges on encouraging and intensifying investment in the hospitality business so that hotels or their equivalent would occupy at least 75 per cent of the total capacity of the beach resorts. There are currently only a few hotels scattered here and there over the 500km-long Mediterranean shoreline west of Alexandria, and these are struggling to survive outside the summer season. Since the major part of the North Coast resorts features not hotels but individual housing units: apartments, chalets, villas or even lavish mansions, I suggested turning them into timeshare units and marketing them according to the timeshare system, an alternative touristic possibility applied worldwide. Timeshare systems market non-hotel units through travel agencies or through timeshare clubs which already include a large number of Egyptians as members. A number of resorts in South Sinai and on the Red Sea coast include timeshare units.
If administrators of North Coast resorts see the idea as amenable, they could establish investment partnerships with timeshare clubs. Owners of the units could have them placed on the tourist market, at the same time specifying the weeks they wish to retain for personal use.
They would thus benefit from the income timesharing brings in, and work to give life to the winter ghost towns on the North Coast.
If a timeshare system is applied, the units would be under the care of a special department responsible for their upgrading, maintenance, and quality. This is, in itself, another benefit added to the financial interest the time sharing brings in, since the use of the units all year round would rescue them from the normal decay that occurs by keeping them closed and unused for more than eight months every year. It has become the nightmare of North Coast landlords to open their units at the beginning of every summer season, only to discover the damages incurred by the eight-month disuse, whether in fixtures, inner or outer facades, furniture or appliances. This adds to the great effort that they need to put into cleaning their houses and making them again liveable. If timeshared, however, the seasonal disuse would end, and the department in charge of timeshare marketing would take care of the regular maintenance and cleanliness of the units, keeping them always up to the required tourist standards.
However, landlords must agree to certain concessions if they timeshare their homes. They would have to give up their personal touch and taste when they furnish their units, and accept that the furnishing would be subject to the policies and styles adopted by the timeshare clubs, which all come in practical, pleasant and attractive styles that match the nature of the place and needs of users. Furthermore, at least half the capacity of the resort must be offered up and marketed by the timeshare club in order to make feasible the cost of marketing, management and maintenance, while ensuring a good profit to landlords, travel agencies, and timeshare clubs. This means that at least half the number of landlords in a resort should accept to offer their units up for timeshare.
Do we have the will and courage to breathe life into the North Coast’s winter ghost towns, or will they remain the perpetual “issue of every season”?
30 September 2018