Emad Aziz, chairman of the Savoy Group Sharm el Sheikh, tells Breaking Travel News about his extraordinary idea to recreate London’s Oxford Street in the spectacular SOHO Square.
The entrepreneur, who has been supporting the Egyptian Tourist Board’s drive to rebuild consumer confidence in the country, sees a bright future for sunny Sharm, which has been attracting new visitors in recent months following a host of exciting new developments.
Breaking Travel News: What are your activities at ITB Berlin? Why is it such an important event for the travel and tourism industry?
Emad Aziz: ITB is one of the best contracting and relationship building platforms in the world. This event allows us to promote not only the hotels’ profiles, but also that of the destination.
In addition we seek to build new relationships with tour operators to ensure arrivals bounce back to pre-February 2012 levels.
BTN: What attracted you to the hospitality industry?
EA: I always wanted the world to experience the beauty and the sights of my country, the more hotels I build the closer I will come to fulfil my vision.
BTN: Why did you decide to build SOHO Square? Has your vision been fully realised?
EA: SOHO Square was built to uplift the entire destination. Sharm needed an upmarket family entertainment centre and that’s exactly what it is. Good shopping, supervised children entertainment areas, restaurants for fine dining, coffee shops, bars and recreation are essential features and offer a calm upmarket and peaceful home to all within the destination.
BTN: What’s new at the Savoy Group?
EA: We have only reached approximately 35% of our potential. We are constantly enhancing and improving our facilities. The expansion of the Royal Savoy has resulted in a new reception and lounge, which is in the final stages of being built. The SOHO Hotel and Sky Hotel are under construction and the addition of Oxford Street, which will be an extension to SOHO Square is on the drawing board at the moment.
BTN: Can you comment on how Sharm El Sheikh has changed over the past few years? How do you see it evolving in future?
EA: Sharm has become a very reasonably priced, upmarket destination. It appeals to all market sectors and as it develops it will be a product and destination with nature and eco- tourism at its heart which will continue to appeal to one and all.
BTN: What do you consider to be the main challenges that you need to address right now?
EA: To rebuild confidence in Egypt and the project the reality that Sharm is a city of peace and an ideal holiday maker’s destination.
BTN: What are your main goals and priorities for the next 12 months?
EA: To insure that SAVOY Group continues to be the leader in our industry.
BTN: Are you looking to tap into any new emerging markets?
EA: Yes we are looking at Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Ireland. We are also promoting Sharm as a night life destination with year round visits of top 50 DJ’s and international Superstars like Peter Andre and UB40 most recently.
The Savoy’s excellent sporting facilities ensure that we remain on the cutting edge of the industry. The new international standard squash courts and hosting of the World Squash Series over the next few years is an additional enhancement which will tap into new market segments.
BTN: What is your message to travellers who are thinking of taking a trip to Egypt but uncertain due to media reports?
EA: Egypt is a people loving country and continues to welcome tourists to their home. The warmth kindness dignity and resilience of Egyptians will ensure that the beauty on land and in the sea, remain the shared home and domain of all people and friends of Egypt.
BTN: Is the future bright for travel and tourism in Sharm El Sheikh?
EA: The strength and resilience of both Egypt and Sharm El Sheikh combined with the natural ecosystems, cultural and entertainment resources will ensure as steady recovery for the region.