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Egypt's tourism sector losing LE2.2 bln per month: Minister

Egyptian Tourism Minister tells Al-Arabiya website that the sector's losses are the largest in 20 years

Ahram Online , Friday 15 Jan 2016
Egypt
File photo of the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh (Reuters)
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Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said on Friday that the country's tourism sector has been losing LE2.2 billion ($283 million) per month since a Russian passenger crashed in Sinai in October, killing all onboard.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya news website Zaazou said that the losses are presumed to be the largest in the tourism sector for the past 20 years.

"The numbers of tourists have been decreasing since Russia and Britain banned flights to Egypt from their airports," he added, referring to a measure put in place following the plane crash.

The Egyptian authorities have not yet released the final results of the investigation into the circumstances of the crash. However, the Russian officials have said they believe a terrorist bomb caused the incident.

Zaazou stressed so far the committee tasked to issue the final report about the incident had not received any information suggesting that the plane was due to a terror attack.

"I believe there is a misunderstanding on the part of many parties, including Russia," he said.

The minister did not specify when the committee will finalise its report.

Hurghada incident 

Speaking about a stabbing incident that took place in the Red Sea town Hurghada last week, Zaazou said that the incident hadn't had a major effect on the number of tourists that have lately been visiting the country, especially Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh.

Three European tourists were stabbed by local attackers while eating at a hotel restaurant in Hurghada. Authorities said terrorism was not behind the incident.

Zaazou told Al-Arabiya that the way Egyptian authorities dealt with the Hurghada attack has also helped the situation saying that "we have learnt from past experiences and the need for speedily being present in the place of the incident and the transparency in reporting the attack."

The minister also shed light on more procedures for the safety of tourists, for which the Egyptian cabinet has allocated funds.

As an example, Zaazou said that the number of CCTV cameras in touristic sites will be increased.

"I hope that tourism gets back to its normal level before 13 months pass, which is the expected period, according to studies, needed for such circumstances," he added.

Speaking about the UK-based Control Risks Group, a consultancy firm that is to review and enhance security arrangements at Egyptian airports, Zaazou said that Egypt had not signed yet any contracts with the firm but added that the signing might take place by the beginning of February.

He said that Marsa Alam International Airport, located in the Red Sea governorate, will join the list of those under review by the firm.

Cairo International Airport and Sharm El-Sheikh airport will also be reviewed.

"A British team is currently reviewing the safety conditions and the security of airports as per request by the UK," he stated. 

Zaazou said in the interview that Egyptian revenues from the tourism sector in 2014 were LE7.2 billion and that they had been hoping for an increase of 15-20 percent in 2015.

Before the plane crash, there were signs of a recovery; tourism revenues surged 45.3 percent to reach $7.4 billion in the fiscal year ending 30 June 2015, compared to $5.1 billion in the same period the previous year, according to the central bank. 

Although street protests in Egypt have decreased over the past two years, the recovery in tourism revenues remains well below the $12.5 billion generated in the peak year of 2010 prior to the uprising that unseated long time autocrat Hosni Mubarak. 

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expat
16-01-2016 06:07pm
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the only cultural tourists left right now..
are the one's,using the cheapest flights(and they are very good in checking that out),the cheapest bed+breakfast deals in the hotels(and again,they are experts in twisting the hand of the hotelier including smear attacks on trip advisor)and checking out the market for the cheapest lager and fish and chips in the town... these guys will never,for example,leave luxor alone,but unfortunately,they dont really help the industry at all
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expat
16-01-2016 11:08pm
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why the negative response?
everybody knows this class of "regulars" in egypt
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Tut
16-01-2016 03:10pm
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Too many resorts, too little culture
Tourists today have hundreds of choices for beaches, resorts, and cruises; all offering similar value. What was unique about Egypt was the culture, the history, and the civilization. These unique ingredients fade away in the eyes of tourists when their lives are threaten by lack of security; when their conscious is questioned by the absence of human rights and civility; when their values are attacked by the lack of freedom for youth, women, and religion. The reliance on Russian and Chinese tourists was not by accident, it was a natural regression from the sophisticated tourists who value human rights and freedom; now these ‘Nouveau riche’ vanished for lack of security. Let’s not kid ourselves and believe that the plane crash was the cause of tourism collapse; the collapse started years ago when civilized tourists stayed away and the Nouveau free replaced them. With this trajectory the only group left is dirty old men looking for an escape from their miserable Wahhabi existence!
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expat
16-01-2016 06:02pm
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very good comment!
this comment puts the finger on various real issues! i like it a lot and did send it to friends for review
2



Al
16-01-2016 12:41am
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Disparate measures call for desperate statments
"I believe there is a misunderstanding on the part of many parties, including Russia," he said.
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expat
15-01-2016 11:55pm
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sorry state of mindset of this minister...
egypt was always a mix of beach AND cultural tourism cultural tourism(lux/aswan/cairo/nile cruise) is dead more or less since 2012... so he was hanging one sided on the cheap(yes,cheap,because even the air petrol was sponsored for the tourists)sharm and hurghada all inclusive crowd,which really doesnt care,where they get the all in beverages... now,as this meager machine of revenue is also hurt,FOR THE FIRST TIME this minister seems to be really concerned. the army is the army,but cannot guarantee civil security,the police to totally corrupt and bedded within their own clans/families if you cannot get your effective security right to at least 80% of usual african countries,then you will have to go along with the declining suez revenues only
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