Egypt's tourist numbers drop in February for fourth month in row

Ahram Online , Monday 4 Apr 2016

Giza pyramids
Members of American Football teams walk around the Sphinx and Great Pyramids during a visit of a group of players of the National Football League (NFL) representing American Football Without Barriers (AFWB), in Giza, Egypt February 29, 2016. Picture taken February 29, 2016 (Reuters)

The number of tourists visiting Egypt declined in February for the fourth consecutive month, as a deadly air crash last year continues to have an impact on the country's tourism industry.

Egypt saw 346,500 tourists in February, down 46 percent compared to the same month last year, state statistics body CAPMAS said on Monday.

According to CAPMAS, West Europeans top the visitor list, making up 35.6 percent of the total arriving tourists in February, followed by Middle Easterners with 26.7 percent and East Europeans with 14.1 percent.

The countries sending the most tourists in each region are Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine, CAPMAS said.

In February this year, tourists spent a total of 1.8 million nights in the country, versus 5.6 million in February 2015.

The current decline in tourist numbers comes after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai on 31 October last year, killing all 224 people on board, most of whom were Russian holidaymakers.

Russia, the UK and a number of other countries have since suspended all flights to Sharm El-Sheikh airport, where the plane took off.

In a televised interview on Sunday, newly appointed Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed said that he would meet with 12 low-cost airliners by next week to put in place a plan to attract tourists from different markets worldwide, especially those which are not served by Egypt’s national carrier EgyptAir.

Rashed said that his ministry is eyeing high-spending tourists such as Arab Gulf nationals in an attempt to “immediately” increase industry revenues.

Last month, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail confirmed that "after the plane crash, over the past three or four months, [Egypt] has lost around $1.2 billion or $1.3 billion in revenues.”

For his part, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that flights from Moscow to Egypt would be resumed if the highest level of security was provided.

Russia's government is also considering reopening its consulate in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada in the near future. 

Egypt accrued $6.1 billion in tourism revenue in 2015, down 15 percent from the year before, as the total number of tourists dropped in 2015 by 6 percent to 9.3 million and the total number of nights spent in the country declined by 14 percent.  

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