Cultural festivals in Egypt: boosting tourism and employment

Film festivals in Egypt, such as the Cairo International Film Festival and El Gouna Film Festivals, have become significant events that contribute to the country’s economy, seasonal employment, aviation and tourism. These festivals not only showcase cinematic works but also provide opportunities for cultural exchange, networking and collaboration. In addition, holding various cultural and music festivals helps the country to increase economic returns from the entertainment industry.

Economic contribution

Film festivals, along with cultural and music festivals, have a significant economic impact on Egypt. They contribute to the country’s cultural and economic growth by promoting its film industry and promoting cultural exchange and tourism.

“Governments now support and promote events and festivals as part of their strategies for economic development, nation-building and destination marketing,” Rasha Ibrahim Siam, associate professor in the Department of Tourism Research at the King Marriott Institute of Tourism and Hospitality, said in a research journal published by Mansoura University in 2022.

In addition, film festivals provide financial support to filmmakers. In December, the El Gouna Film Festival, in collaboration with Orascom Development’s O West, launched an EGP 8 million seed funding initiative to support Egyptian and Arab filmmakers. “The fund will support 10 film projects, with the first phase dedicated to the development of feature-length, documentary and short films,” said Marian Khoury, artistic director of the El Gouna Film Festival, in a press release.

Entertainment festivals support the entertainment industry, which in turn plays a role in the economy. Mai Hamdi, a TV program producer, tells Arab Finance that both movies and TV shows attract US dollars. Hamdi explains that “films and TV shows are sold on non-Egyptian platforms and other channels as we have talented actors and actresses who sell outside of Egypt. A television series is sold once by being broadcast exclusively on one channel or simultaneously on several channels, but it is nevertheless broadcast exclusively because each channel has a different audience.’

In addition, the growth of the entertainment industry boosts employment in the manufacturing sector. “You don’t just hire a director, cinematographer, production crew, etc.; you also hire carpenters, tailors and painters. So the film and television industry should be respected because they have an impact on countries’ economies,” Hamdi points out, adding that many different people also work in cinemas, including technicians, service providers and others. She states that when there is a movie theater, there are many services nearby, such as restaurants and outing destinations.

Meanwhile, hosting film festivals in Egypt “enriches excellence in cinema and promotes dialogue through the art of filmmaking, which is impressive, contributing to the cultural richness and diversity of cinema internationally,” Heba Salah, an economic expert and public policy analyst at The Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC), says Arab Finance, adding that “this has made the Egyptian film industry able to compete with other regional festivals, such as the Red Sea Film Festival in Saudi Arabia.”

Zoom in on the relevant sectors

Film festivals can boost the Egyptian aviation industry in several ways. First, they attract many international visitors, including filmmakers, actors and film enthusiasts, which increases air traffic to the country. This flow of visitors can have a positive impact on the aviation industry, leading to increased demand for flights and potentially the opening of new air routes.

In addition, film festivals can improve Egypt’s international image, potentially attracting more tourists in the long run, which would also benefit the aviation sector. “Partnering with an international film festival gives the airline global exposure, promotes patronage and demonstrates community involvement. In some cases, it also gives airlines and their passengers access to the latest international movies,” according to the Association for Airline Passenger Experience (APEX).

In addition, entertainment festivals can help the country boost tourism. Egypt hosts a number of artistic events, including the Cairo International Film Festival, the Afro-Asian Film Festival, the India by the Nile Festival, the El Gouna Film Festival, the Aida Opera, and the Cairo International Folk Music Festival, among others . These events are very important for increasing tourism revenue and for cities hosting festivals, according to the Siam Research Journal.

There is also another type of entertainment festival like music festivals like New Alamein Festival. This festival is similar to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, but of course not very similar to it; but we only hope it becomes as successful, Hamdi emphasizes, adding that these festivals are very beneficial for the economy, especially for the economy that bases its tourism on coastal tourism.

It is important to have such events to attract tourism, especially if there is a separate festival for each type of music, such as a jazz festival for example,” says Hamdi. The New Alamein Festival includes several music and entertainment events, as well as international shows and sporting events.

In addition, Salah says, “Film festivals in Egypt have attracted attention for their significant contribution to seasonal employment in various related sectors such as tourism, where they are one of the main drivers that promote cultural tourism and stimulate employment opportunities.” Entertainment festivals provide employment opportunities related to “accommodation, transportation, food and beverage services, and entertainment.”

Egypt also empowers women’s cultural contributions by hosting the Aswan International Women’s Film Festival. The festival has a mission to present “cinema from around the world that represents women and their causes,” said Culture Minister Nevin El-Kilani in his opening speech during the 7th edition of the festival in March 2023.

With entertainment and cultural festivals, the country can support filmmakers and television production, which ultimately attracts US dollars. In addition, organizing festivals in coastal and cultural cities boosts the tourism and aviation industries while promoting the country’s culturally attractive destinations.

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