File photo: Camel drivers wait for customers at the Pyramids Plateau in Giza (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt has to take solid steps, including reassurances on strong security and the longterm economic safety of all touristic investments, in order to bring back tourism and industry investments. In 2010, Egypt had joined for the first time the rank of the top 20 nations in the world in tourism, raking in 14.73 million tourists (17.5 per cent higher than the previous year), before dropping by one-third in 2011 (official reports put the range between 9.1 to 10.1 million) in the aftermath of the popular uprising.
Revenues from tourism dropped to $8.8-9 billion in 2011 from $12.5 billion in 2010. In the first half of 2012, however, 5.08-5.4 million tourists visited the country according to various estimates, representing an average 30 per cent rise on the same period in 2011, after the revolution. Recent official figures estimate around 2.7 million visited in the second quarter of 2012 alone, a figure that is both lower than the peak in 2010 of 3.5 million, while still much better than 2011 figures.
There is understandably much to do for the country to revitalise and grow an industry that brings it 11.5 per cent (according to official sources) of its national income, employs directly and indirectly at least a similar percentage of its workforce, and is the primary source of hard currency.
Further, some argue that Egypt makes relatively little use of its non-archaeological and non-Red Sea tourist sites, and suffers from a lack of contemporary attractions, such as internationally-attractive national festivals.
Most crucially, Egypt’s conservative political groups and current Islamist-led political leadership must unequivocally reaffirm their commitment to safe tourism in the country. And Most immediately, concerns regarding the security of Sinai - following the recent attack that took the lives of 16 border guards and the consequential intensive military operations there - must be addressed.
Note: this article has been updated since its publication to reflect a wider set of indicators, as well as to edit and further update the 2012 tourist arrivals figures.
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