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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

World Tourism Organization recommends lifting travel ban on Egypt amid decline in tourists numbers

Following the crash of a Russian airliner in October 2015, tourist numbers have significantly declined in Egypt, with an almost 50% drop in revenues in 2016 compared to the previous year

Ahram Online , Dalia Farouq , Tuesday 1 Nov 2016
Sharm el sheikh
File Photo:Visitors ride quad-bikes at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. (AFP)
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The secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recommended that countries "immediately" lift the travel ban they have imposed on Egypt, saying that such a restriction increases the suffering of the country that endured a "terrorist act."

Taleb Rifai, who is a Jordanian citizen, highlighted on Monday during a press conference in the Egyptian tourist-friendly city of Luxor that the UNWTO regulations entail that when a travel ban is instated it should have a time and geographical frame, adding that it should be done in consultation with the country concerned.

The UNWTO chief stressed that the organisation selected Luxor in Egypt to hold the conference titled " Cities: Local Culture for Global Travellers” as a message to a world on the safety of Egypt.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped by 41 percent in September 2016 compared to the same month last year registering 473,000 comers, the state's official statistics body CAPMAS announced on Tuesday in an emailed press release.

According to CAPMAS, the drop in tourist arrivals was mainly caused by the decline in Russian tourists by 64.5 percent.

Russia, along with a number of countries including the UK, suspended passenger flights to Sharm El-Sheikh due to security concerns following the deadly crash of a Russian jet minutes after taking off from the airport at the Sinai resort city on 31 October 2015.

The crash killed all 224 people on board.

This year Poland and Turkey have already resumed flights to Sharm El-Sheikh, while Germany decided last May to ease restrictions on flights between its airports and the Egyptian resort.

The first passenger flights from Germany as well as Belgian Jetairfly arrived this week in Sharm El-Sheikh airport following a one-year suspension of flights to the Red Sea beach resort.

"I am very impressed by the security measures in Egyptian airports over the past 10 months," David Scowsill, the president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said during the conference.

Scowsill, who is a British citizen, said that he would hold a meeting with the British government to urge lifting the travel ban on Sharm El-Sheikh adding he found it was safe after travelling to the resort city on his responsibility.

He added that he will meet with British and German tour operators to encourage them to come to Egypt highlighting that the operators are already suffering losses due to the ban.     

CAPMAS said that tourists coming from Middle Eastern countries recorded the highest in September 2016 by 34.6 percent followed by tourists from Western Europe who were ranked second by 31.7 percent.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia stands on top with the largest share contributing 29.6 percent, while in Western Europe, Germany has the largest share of tourists coming to Egypt with 32.1 percent.

In third rank, Eastern European tourists accounted for 13.1% while the rest of the world, including the US, Africa and Asia, made up 20.6 percent.

There have been expectations of a return of Russian flights to Egypt next year as Russia's Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said in late September that Egyptian authorities are making headway in resolving the countries concerns over flight safety after officials carried out several airport safety inspections over recent months.

The Russian travel company Aeroflot's resumed operations in its office at Cairo International Airport which is being seen as a good sign for the return of Russian flights.

The country’s revenues from tourism dropped by 48.9 percent to $3.8 billion in 2015/16 from $7.4 billion in 2014/15, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announced in August.

Receipts from the tourism industry are expected to range from between $4 billion to $4.5 billion by end of the current year, Finance Minister Amr El-Garhy said in July.

 

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