Hotel occupancy rates at Egypt’s Red Sea resorts have dropped to 57 per cent from 76 per cent due to last week’s clashes between the army and Coptic protesters at Maspero, according to Osama El-Ashry, a top official at the Ministry of Tourism.
He added that Cairo hotels were the biggest losers due to their proximity to Tahrir Square, reflected in occupancy rates that haven't exceeded 15 per cent as opposed to the 100 per cent seen during winter seasons in previous years.
The winter tourist season in Egypt, which starts in September/October, is considered the peak season for the industry that is Egypt’s top foreign currency earner, generating US$12.5 billion in 2010.
Hotels in Luxor and Aswan didn’t escape the negative effects of the clashes, and some major hotels laid off more that 25 per cent of their employees due to deteriorating occupancy rates.
Ashry forecast tourism revenues would fall by more than $3.5 billion in 2011. Earlier in September, Egypt’s tourism minister predicted tourist numbers were likely to finish the year 25 per cent down on 2010 figures.