The 10 commandments to increase revenues from tourism

A TALK WITH Dr. Nora Ebeid

Published on 9 January 2012

Author(s): Euromed Heritage News

Type:  Interview N°9 - JAN 2012

The increase in costs would not be met with staff prayers, but rather with a strategy and plan for an increase in revenue sources and tools.

Dr. Nora Ebeid is Professor of Public Administration Faculty of Economics and Political Science-Cairo University, Manager of the Financial Resources Development Department The Grand Egyptian Museum - Economic Advisor The Supreme Council of Antiquities.

How do you see the importance of economic approach in a heritage conservation policy?

Museums and archaeological sites are facing increasing operating costs, particularly speaking costs of conservation, documentation, exhibition, maintenance, education and employee compensation. There is also a trend for capital expansion on behalf of museums that is manifested in the renovation of galleries and in the creation of gallery/building extensions.

The underlying reasons for such cost increase lie in the increase of museums’ acquisitions and archaeological excavations which imposes a situation of enlarged collections and sites’ number that require all care and maintenance. The rise in tourism for cultural heritage over the past few years necessitates that these destinations avail services and facilities for its comers specially with the aging factor of many of its buildings starting to ring a red alarm. The increase in costs would not be met with staff prayers, but rather with a strategy and plan for an increase in revenue sources and tools. However, with the cutback in public funds in many countries, particularly now with many Arab countries facing an economic recession due to their political situation (e.g. Libya, yemen, syria and Iraq), and with the increased competition over grants, donations and sponsorship money, earned income generated from commercial projects becomes of utmost importance, hence, following the Chinese saying that states’ Do not give me a fish, but give me a fishing net’. In addition, the existence of sound financial policies and supporting structure becomes inevitable to manage costs and museums and sites’ harvest of increased revenues.

How should heritage sites or museums increase their income from tourism?

Museums and sites can and do benefit from tourism, but in order to multiply their revenues, the following strategies or ’10 commandments’, can be useful: . Cut or Control Costs strategy whereby they attempt to analyse their purchases, adjust their payables and evaluate their facilities, infrastructure and grass-root programmes. It is essential also to modify staffing whereby trying to get rid of unneeded staff via voluntary separation, paid leave or early retirement.

Here are the other nine innovative multiple increase revenue strategies:

  • First, a decrease in tourism avails the chance for museums and sites to address the local market in their native countries. This could be done by well-organized Marketing programmes which attempt to attract local citizens via free-entry days and reduced tickets for transportation and museum services while at the same time targeting the high niche end of the market with special VIp highly priced services and museum tours.
  • Second, the international market can be addressed by developing an outreach strategy realized by Exporting museums and sites merchandize (the Metropolitan Museum of art has over 17 licensed retail outlets) and using IT to reach potential comers abroad through exhibiting museum collections and sites with virtual reality tools, creating image banks which sell for at least 50% profit per single image and developing educational programmes on-line.
  • Third, a decrease in tourism is also a chance for increasing travelling exhibitions abroad.
  • Fourth, the idea of creating branches for major national museums in other countries (e.g. the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in sadyat island in UaE with approximately a 1.3 billion UsD and 650 Million UsD deals respectively).
  • Fifth, non-traditional revenue venues should be explored such as imposing a heritage/art Tax on a stable revenue source in the country (e.g. a heritage tax on ships passing through the suez Canal in Egypt).
  • Ssixth, museums and sites can create alliances by joining forces and agreeing on a several year plan for the introduction of a common 3-day ticket, co-organization of thematic travelling exhibitions and collaboration on educational and promotional activities.
  • Seventh, Investment strategies should be reviewed and its management should be given to more professional advisors.
  • Eighth, Development offices should continue working, and everyone in the museum or site should participate in fundraising, efforts being coordinated and batteries being charged by the mother center represented by the Development Department.
  • and finally ninth, although tourism declined, museums and sites should make use of the new nature of travelers being independent, and try reaching them by web information and specialized products and services, hence protecting them from possible prices massacre of travel agents.

Considering the increasing economic value of cultural heritage, which consequences on the management of heritage sites and museums?

The increased economic value of cultural heritage necessitates several changes to be undertaken. The mission should be re-examined to respond to the changing direction of adopting economic values, the legal framework organizing work in museums and sites should be modified to allow for economic activities and ventures to evolve. a Cash Cow for-profit activities and/or for profit subsidiaries such as special economic units for image banks or merchandizing companies should be established.

A Financial Unit should be created to manage costs and revenues. staff of expertise in the economic field should be selected and recruited. Finally, everyone in the museum or heritage site should be mobilized to help market the mission and services of the place, including the managing board.

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