A New Golden Age: Vacation Rentals Rise in Egypt

Dillon DuBois | July 27, 2018

Egypt’s tourism industry is experiencing a New Golden Age for vacation rentals.

Several years of political unrest and a wave of terrorist attacks affected not just government stability and local communities, but had the damaging knock-on effect of putting off visitors to the area. The Egyptian government’s attempts to revive tourism, which has involved reducing taxes, upping security at airports, and launching the Wahashtouna campaign in the Arabian Gulf – translated as “We Have Missed You” in Arabic – are beginning to pay off.

Tourism increased by 30% in the first quarter of 2018, and, thankfully, this increase in visitors is translating into an upturn in revenue for the country. Data shows that tourism revenue rose to $2.27 billion from January to March, from $1.256 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Egypt reported its first primary budget surplus in 15 years.


A New Type of Tourist

The boom in Airbnb and vacation rentals worldwide has brought with it an emerging demographic of tourist: those looking for a travel experience not offered by traditional hotels – whether they are ‘millennials’ seeking a slice of local life, families that want access to a kitchen, or business travelers looking for additional privacy.

In Egypt, the jump in Airbnb guests illustrates both this upward trajectory in tourist numbers, and a diversification in Egypt’s accommodation offering.

Airbnb guest arrivals to Egypt grew by 134% from 2017 to 2018, according to official figures from Airbnb, making it the fastest-growing destination in Africa. In the summer of 2017/2018 the resort towns of Hurghada and El Gouna saw 220% and 215% growth in listings. By comparison, Morocco grew by 50%, and South Africa by 60%.


Vacation Rentals in Egypt: Where To Invest

Airbnb hosts in Egypt are reaping the benefits of a rise in popularity of the short-term rental platform. AirDNA data shows that Airbnb properties in the Red Sea generated by far the most revenue of the Egyptian governorates, bringing in USD $3,242,440 over the last year (July 2017-June 2018). Airbnb properties in Cairo made a total of $1,561,485 in revenue over the same period, and nearby Giza, home of the pyramids, reached $1,035,223.

As the market recuperates, an increase in demand for vacation rentals means that even small-time Airbnb hosts that manage just one property can experience high returns on investment. Over the whole of Egypt, the average income for a host managing just one Entire Home was USD $5,191 over the last twelve months. In the Giza Governorate, single-listing hosts slightly more on average, $5,485, and in the Red Sea Governorate, the average rocketed to $7,358 over the same period (2).

Vacation rental entrepreneurs that want to get on the real estate ladder and invest in a buy-to-rent property in an unsaturated market should focus on Revenue Per Available Rental (RevPAR) as their metric of choice. Both the Alexandria and Luxor Governorates stand out as areas with the highest growth in RevPAR over the last year (1) – 42% – while the largest growth was in the Matrouh Governorate, where Revenue Per Available Rental has increased by 56%.

On the other hand, the slowest growth has been in the Giza Governorate, which has seen a 7% increase in Revenue Per Available Rental. In the Suez Governorate, there has been an 8% rise.

Airbnb has evolved from its air mattress roots to offer a wider scope of listings, including professionally-managed properties. These places are often run by an experienced team and include many of the same comforts as a traditional hotel room.

For a vacation rental management company, these comforts, amenities, and services are what help them stand out from the competition. The most successful property managers use data (such as that presented in AirDNA’s MarketMinder tool) to analyze these factors. For example, in the Red Sea Governorate, 66% of properties boast a swimming pool, 71% provide a washer, and the vast majority – 91% – have air conditioning. Guests traveling to the area were generally more dissatisfied with ‘Cleanliness’ (which received the lowest average rating, 4.3). These figures suggest that exceptionally clean properties that provide the three amenities above would do well as a vacation rental in that area.

Currently, only 33 hosts in Egypt manage 10+ or more listings on Airbnb, and just two hosts in the country manage over 50 properties. Although the competition isn’t particularly fierce in Egypt, the stakes are high. The ten top-earning properties in the Red Sea Governorate earned over $30,000 each in gross profit over the last year.

Current Airbnb offerings in Cairo, Egypt. Photo MarketMinder, AirDNA

(1) Percentage growth in RevPAR from July 2016-July 2017, to July 2017-July 2018.
(2) Homes rented for 30+ days in the last twelve months (July 2018-June 2018).

Thank you to Brennan Cusack’s piece for Forbes Hey, Airbnb, What About Egypt? for providing the inspiration for this blog post.


Vacation Rentals in Egypt: How To Get Started

Interested in the investment opportunities of vacation rentals in Egypt? Get started by diving into AirDNA’s MarketMinder tool for data on revenue, occupancy and seasonality. If you already manage a property in Egypt, the tool also includes a wealth of data on how to optimize your listing.


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