By: Ahmed Yousry, Manager | Hospitality Consultancy Services | Colliers International Egypt

In January of this year, Egypt was chosen as the host nation for the 2019 Africa Nations Cup – the premier international competition for African football. The country was selected to host the competition in place of Cameroon, which had been stripped of hosting duties at the end of 2018 due to delays in infrastructure delivery and security concerns.

This edition of the tournament will be unique as it will be held in the summer months of June/July, instead of the traditional January/ February window. It will be the first time that 24 teams will participate, an increase from 16 teams in the previous edition. The change to the summer season is expected to be a huge gamechanger for the competition in terms of global TV viewership, as it will no longer compete against the strong European football league competitions, whose season break for the summer. With that, we can expect that the international football fraternity will have their eyes fully on Egypt for the month-long tournament; and what an opportunity this is to promote the country!

International sporting competitions have long been used as a focal point for infrastructural development. Typically, stadia and other sporting arenas are either built or refurbished, transport links are improved, and additional hotel stock is added. However, given that Egypt was only selected to host the competition six months prior to kick off, a lot of the typically large scale infrastructure development, associated with hosting a tournament of this size, will not be possible. Luckily the stadia infrastructure is in place across the country and a number of the stadiums being used for the tournament were shut in February to allow for refurbishment works.

The big opportunity with this tournament is to boost Egyptian tourism, to show to the world that the country has bounced back after a difficult period. The organizing committees are certainly embracing this chance, illustrated by the tournament draw being held against the backdrop of the Great Pyramids of Giza – a change from the typical international tournament draw, which are regularly held in conference halls or theaters.

For a successful hosting of the Nations Cup, it is imperative that all tourism stakeholders play their part in ensuring that visiting fans have an enjoyable experience and become ambassadors for Egyptian tourism. For the global audience watching at home, a good run in the tournament by everyone’s “second team” – Egypt, will keep international interest alive and TV screens tuned in. Here’s hoping for a great tournament and for us to show the world the true meaning of Egyptian hospitality!

 

Find this opinion piece at our June issue, page no. 34