Travel platform creates new job opportunities for Egyptian guides

The platform says its locals can tailor activities and give visitors an insider's view on where to go and what to see. (Screengrab)
Updated 21 September 2019

Travel platform creates new job opportunities for Egyptian guides

  • Showaround is a platform that allows travelers to hire locals as personal tour guides

CAIRO: Apps have become increasingly popular in Egypt in recent years, creating new job opportunities and challenging traditional business and marketing channels.

For instance, Uber has around 90,000 monthly active drivers in the country, and Airbnb has grown massively.

Showaround, a platform that allows travelers to hire locals as personal tour guides, has attracted more than 6,300 locals.

“It’s a wave of change. It’s the fourth industrial revolution. Expect more and more apps to change how business is done,” Mohsen Aziz, 41, a software company owner in Cairo, told Arab News.

“Moreover, it opens up the space for new job opportunities and new products and services that were almost impossible to offer previously.”

Aziz said of Showaround: “Regardless of the local guides’ background, they still get recruited by global tourists. Subscribers’ profile picture, write up and service users’ reviews drive demand.”

On the app, men and women, primarily aged 21-35, post interesting pictures that include ancient sites, yoga positions and hiking.

Tour prices range from $3 to $15 per hour, but many locals offer their services for free to gain reviews.

“While I’m happy we’re driving better tourist services through such platforms, I’m concerned that these locals aren’t trained or have enough of a background to be ambassadors for our country to explain thousands of years of history,” said professional tour guide Rasha Hussein.

“Guides should get government licenses to practice. It doesn’t sound fair. We spent years studying and practicing to be eligible.”

Egypt aims to attract 12 million tourists in the fiscal year 2019-20, an 11 percent increase from 2018-19, according to government plans.

The Tourism Ministry recently announced partnerships with six international companies, including CNN and Expedia, to promote tourism through global platforms and modernize marketing mechanisms for Egyptian tourist destinations.

The government aims to increase the number of tourist nights spent in Egypt to 127 million, compared to 113 million in 2018-19.

Egypt’s tourism revenues reached $11.4 billion in 2018, an increase of around 50 percent ($7.6 billion) from 2017, according to figures from the Tourism Ministry.


Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

Updated 19 November 2019

Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

  • Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities

BEIRUT: Banks in Lebanon will reopen on Tuesday after the Association of Banks in Lebanon approved measures to ease the anger of depositors and customers. 

More than 3,000 members of Beirut’s police, the regional gendarmerie, the judicial police, and the information division of the Internal Security Forces will provide protection to banks and their employees, who carried out an open strike for a week.

They did so due to customers’ anger over measures applied by banks on withdrawals and transfers amid Lebanon’s severe political and economic crisis, which sparked mass protests that have been ongoing for 33 days.

Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon decided on Sunday to “stop restrictions on new funds transferred from abroad, provided that remittances abroad only cover urgent personal expenses.”

It also decided to lift restrictions on the circulation of checks, transfers, and the use of credit cards in Lebanon. 

As for the use of credit cards abroad, ceilings are determined by agreements between banks and customers.

The association has determined a maximum cash withdrawal rate of $1,000 per week for holders of current accounts in dollars, while checks issued in foreign currencies will be transferred into their account.

It has also urged customers to “use their credit cards, especially in Lebanese pounds, to buy their needs.”

Meanwhile, protesters are preparing to block roads leading to Parliament in the heart of Beirut on Tuesday, to prevent a legislative session from taking place. The session had already been postponed for a week.

In an attempt to placate protesters, the presidential palace’s media office said the president has ordered investigations into “financial crimes, waste, forgery, money laundering and suspicious transactions,” as well as “negligence at work, promotion of counterfeit medicines and suspicious reconciliation contracts.”