From heritage to hedonism : the repositioning of the tourist image of Egypt : a key informant qualitative inquiry
This thesis provides an examination of the managerial policies adopted by the Egyptian tourism sector in planning and implementing the repositioning of the image of Egypt from the mid 1960s onwards. It aimed at augmenting its traditional cultural identity with an additional hedonistic dimension, derived from the development of beach resort tourism on the Red Sea coast. In addition to exploring the specific elements of the Egyptian repositioning, including an evaluation of its success, the study seeks to identify from the analysis, the key issues and managerial requirements involved in the repositioning of destinations in general, and proposes a preliminary model of the content and sequencing of the repositioning process. The study employed a qualitative methodology involving ethnographic fieldwork with key informants, chosen as representatives of the main categories of stakeholders who participated in Egyptian tourism planning of the repositioning programme. It took its direction and procedures from an adaptation of Grounded theory, in which three main sources of data were collected and appraised: ethnographic interview responses, direct observation, and documentation generated both internally and externally. The results revealed by this study suggest that, though total tourist flows generally increased after the repositioning, and the proportion of tourists visiting the Red Sea beach resorts, rather than the cultural locations, also increased, the lack of proper evaluation mechanisms of the programme made it difficult to attribute causally these changes to public sector managerial decisions, rather than to other variables in the broader external environment (world tourism growth trends, power of the international operators, price competitiveness, etc.). Moreover, in analysing the mechanics of the programme, a number of key areas of deficiency in strategic planning and marketing practice were identified. These deficiencies included: weak or non-existent marketing research; poor market targeting and product portfolio analysis; inadequate planning and evaluation procedures; weak communication, and integration of effort between stakeholders; and limited awareness of cutting edge promotional practices. The normative model of repositioning offered at the end of the Results section of this study seeks to address some of the problems and deficiencies disclosed in the Egyptian case study, by suggesting some of the desiderata of best practice when destinations need to augment, modify, or change their image.