Egypt's antiquities and tourism Khaled Al-Anany (Al-Ahram)
Egypt’s Tourism Minister Khaled El-Anani on Monday expected the tourism sector in the country to recover by mid-2022, saying the current tourist revenue represents 43 percent, compared to the period before the spread of the coronavirus.
Speaking to Al-Arabiya on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, El-Anani said he hopes Egypt records during the second half of 2022 tourism figures that are close to the levels recorded in 2019.
This recovery will be achieved in case the coronavirus vaccines proved effective and were distributed at a suitable pace in the countries which tourists come from, El-Anani said.
Tourism, according to the tourism ministry in 2019 before the pandemic, represented 15 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP).
During 2020, Egypt has reportedly lost almost 70 percent of its tourism revenues due to the pandemic.
Egypt expects a surge in tourism revenues, especially following a Russian decision to resume charter flights to Egypt's Red Sea airports, including Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh.
Goldman Sachs expects the sector to replenish gradually with about $3 billion in the wake of the Russian decision. The New York-based investment banking company said last month that Russian tourists accounted for 75 percent of all tourists to Egypt in 2014.
El-Anani told Al-Arabiya that Egypt is implementing tourism projects worth $15 billion.
The minister explained that Egypt in April could restore 50 percent of the number of tourists before the pandemic.
He noted that more than 500,000 visitors arrived in the country from 20 states, compared to a million visitors in 2019 before the pandemic.
El-Anani estimated monthly tourism losses in Egypt at 60 percent, in comparison between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021, representing around $600 million.
Egypt temporarily suspended international flights last year and closed numerous archaeological sites in the wake of the pandemic, which affected hundreds of workers in the vital sector.
According to a 2019 report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), 2.5 million people worked in the tourism sector in 2018, which represents around 9.5 percent of total job opportunities in Egypt.
Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed in April said all the workers in tourism facilities, establishments, and related activities in the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates would be vaccinated by the end of the month.
In remarks to Reuters on Sunday, El-Anani said 65 percent of the tourists coming to Egypt visit South Sinai and the Red Sea, as they represent open areas with water activities.
He noted that this kind of vacation is sought by tourists during the pandemic.
Commenting on the Russian decision to resume flights to Egyptian resorts, El-Anany said 3.5 million Russian tourists had been visiting Egypt annually until 2015.