Film festivals in Egypt, such as the Cairo International Film Festival and El Gouna Film Festivals, have become significant events that contribute to the country's economy, seasonal employment, aviation, and tourism. These festivals not only showcase cinematic works but also provide opportunities for cultural exchange, networking, and collaboration. Moreover, hosting different cultural and musical festivals helps the country boost economic returns from the entertainment industry.

Economic Contribution

Film festivals, along with cultural and musical festivals, have a significant economic impact on Egypt. They contribute to the country's cultural and economic growth by promoting its film industry and fostering cultural exchange and tourism.

"Governments now support and promote events and festivals as a part of their strategies for economic development, nation-building, and destination marketing," Rasha Ibrahim Siam, Associate Professor at the Department of Tourism Studies of the Higher Institute of Tourism and Hotels King Mariout, stated in a research journal published by Mansoura University in 2022.

Moreover, film festivals provide financial support to filmmakers. In December, El Gouna Film Festival, in collaboration with Orascom Development's O West, launched an EGP 8 million Seed Fundings initiative to support Egyptian and Arab filmmakers. “The fund will support 10 film projects, with the first phase dedicated to developing full-length feature films, documentaries, and short films,” Marianne Khoury, the Artistic Director of El Gouna Film Festival, said in a press release.

Entertainment festivals support the entertainment industry, which, in turn, plays a role in the economy. Mai Hamdi, TV Program Producer, tells Arab Finance that both films and TV shows attract US dollars. Hamdi explains that “films and TV shows are sold to non-Egyptian platforms and to other channels, as we have talented actors and actresses that sell outside of Egypt. A TV series is sold once, premiering exclusively on one channel or simultaneously on several channels, and yet it is broadcast exclusively because each channel has a different audience.”

Additionally, the growth of the entertainment industry boosts employment in the production sector. “You do not only hire a director, cameraman, production crew, and so on; you also hire carpenters, tailors, and painters. So, the film and television industries should be looked at with respect because they are influential in the economies of countries,” Hamdi points out, adding that cinemas also employ many different people, including technicians, service providers, and others. She states that when there is a film theater, there are a lot of services established nearby, such as restaurants and outing destinations.

Meanwhile, hosting film festivals in Egypt “enriches cinematic excellence and promotes dialogue through the art of filmmaking, which has been impressive, contributing to the cultural richness and diversity of cinema on an international scale,” Heba Salah, an economic expert and public policy analyst at the Egyptian Cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC), tells Arab Finance, adding that “this has made the Egyptian film industry capable of competing with other regional festivals, like the Red Sea Film Festival in Saudi Arabia.”

Boost Relevant Sectors

Film festivals can boost Egypt’s aviation industry in several ways. Firstly, they attract many international visitors, including filmmakers, actors, and film enthusiasts, which increases air traffic to the country. This influx of visitors can have a positive impact on the aviation industry, leading to an increase in demand for flights and potentially the opening of new air routes.

Additionally, film festivals can enhance the international image of Egypt, potentially attracting more tourists in the long term, which would also benefit the aviation sector. "Partnering with an international film festival gives an airline worldwide exposure, encourages patronage, and demonstrates community involvement. In some cases, it also gives the airlines and their passengers access to the latest international films," according to the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX).

Moreover, entertainment festivals can help the country boost tourism. Egypt hosts a number of artistic events, including the Cairo International Film Festival, the Afro-Asian Film Festival, the India by the Nile Festival, El Gouna Film Festival, Aida Opera, and Cairo’s International Folk Music Festival, among others. These events are very important for boosting tourism revenues and for the cities where festivals take place, according to Siam’s research journal.

There is also another type of entertainment festival, such as musical festivals like the New Alamein Festival. This festival is similar to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, but, of course, not really similar to it; however, we only hope it becomes as successful, Hamdi highlights, adding that these festivals are very beneficial for the economy, especially for the economy that bases its tourism on coastal tourism.

It is important to have similar events to attract tourism, especially if there is a separate festival for each type of music, such as a jazz festival, for example,” Hamdi states. The New Alamein Festival features several events in music and entertainment, as well as international shows and sporting events.

Moreover, Salah says that "film festivals in Egypt have garnered attention for their significant contributions to seasonal employment across different related sectors like tourism, where they are one of the main engines that promote cultural tourism and stimulate employment opportunities." Entertainment festivals provide job opportunities related to "accommodation, transport, food and beverage services, and entertainment."

Egypt is also empowering women’s cultural contributions by hosting the Aswan International Women Film Festival. The festival has a mission to feature “cinema from all over the world that represents women and their causes,” Minister of Culture Nevine El-Kilani said in her opening speech during the 7th edition of the festival in March 2023.

With entertainment and cultural festivals, the country can support filmmakers and TV production, which eventually attracts US dollars. Moreover, hosting festivals in coastal and cultural cities boosts the tourism and aviation industries while also promoting the country’s culturally attractive destinations.


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