Egypt's tourist numbers drop 38pct in November year-on-year following Russian plane crash

Ahram Online , Monday 11 Jan 2016

Tourists relax on the beach at the Bella Vista Hotel in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Hurghada on January 9, 2016 (AFP)

The number of tourists visiting Egypt fell 38 percent in November to 558,000, from 898,000 compared to the same month last year, the official statistics agency CAPMAS reported on Monday.

The drop followed the Russian plane crash in Sinai in October which Islamic militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, affiliated to ISIS, claimed responsibility for. All 224 people on board were killed.

Egypt is yet to issue its final investigative report about the incident, which Russia has said was the result of a terrorist bomb.

Expecting that the accident would weaken tourism sector further, the World Bank cut Egypt's projected growth rate in the fiscal year 2015/16 by 0.7 percent to 3.8 percent in its recent report on global economic prospects.

Despite a Russian ban on flights to the country, 47 percent of Eastern European tourists coming to Egypt in November were from Russia.

Some 40 percent of visitors to Egypt in November came from Western Europe, followed by Eastern Europe and Arab countries.

The number of nights spent by tourists in November fell 51.6 percent to 5 million nights, down from 10.3 million nights year-on-year.

Egypt's tourism sector had showed signs of recovery in the past year, generating $7.4 billion in revenue in the fiscal year ending in June 2015, up from $5.1 billion the same period the previous year.

But the tourism minister expected the recovery of the ailing sector to slow and generate $6.7 billion in revenues in 2016, down from $7.5 billion in 2015.

Last week, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, an Egyptian militant group that has declared allegiance to ISIS, claimed an attack on a tourist bus outside a hotel near the Giza Pyramids. There were no casualties in the attack, which authorities said was targeted at security forces not tourists.

On Friday, three foreign tourists were stabbed in a hotel restaurant in the resort town of Hurghada on the Red Sea, leaving them with “minor injuries” according to Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou. Officials have denied any link with terrorism. 

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