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Egypt sees 28% drop in tourism in Jan/Feb 2014

Drop in tourism largely stems from 58% decline in visitors from Arab countries

Ahram Online, Dalia Farouk, Saturday 15 Mar 2014
Egyptian Museum
An Egyptian military solider reads at a cafe in front the empty gift shop in the Egyptian Museum near Tahrir Square in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
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The number of tourists visiting Egypt in the first two months of 2014 has dropped 28 percent to 1.3 million in comparison to January and February 2013.

The majority of the decline in visits is attributed to Middle Eastern countries, specifically Syria, Libya and Bahrain.

Visits from Arab countries fell 58 percent, mostly depicting an 85 percent drop from Syria, 54 percent from Libya, and 19 percent decline in visits from Bahrain.

On the contrary, tourists coming from the United Arab Emirates increased by 38 percent to add up to 3088 visitors in January and February.

Tourists visiting from Europe were 24 percent less as compared to January and February 2013.

This period also saw 42 percent less tourists from Asia and the Pacific as compared to the same period in the previous year.

The tourism sector, which accounts for roughly nine percent of GDP, has received several blows since a popular uprising forced president Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011. Prolonged periods of unrest and sporadic violence have led many countries to warn their citizens against travelling to Egypt.

Egypt attracted 14.7 million visitors in 2010, a record high. That fell to around 10 million in 2011, then rose to 11.5 million in 2012.

As the security situation in South Sinai has deteriorated under a growing militant insurgency, Germany has issued a warning against travel to the peninsula and travel agencies have begun evacuating German tourists from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

In an attempt to save the ailing sector, tourism minister, Hisham Zaazou, oversaw initiatives to encourage domestic tourism through affordable travel packages. Zaazou also hosted a delegation of British experts in Sharm El-Sheikh to assess the safety of Sinai's touristic resorts.

He said that the tourism ministry was eyeing visitors from emerging markets such as India, the source of 18 million tourists annually.

Indian tourists visiting Egypt in the first two months of this year fell by 14.5 percent to 7872 visitors.

However, the second “India on the banks of the Nile” festival starting 1st of April and continuing for three weeks is expected to boost Indian tourism to Egypt.

Rasha Al-Azazi, Spokesperson for the ministry of tourism, assured that the ministry recognizes the high purchasing power for Indian tourists.

Egypt aims to attract one million Indian tourists by September 2017, added Al-Azazi.

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