Egypt tourism will rebound with curfew lift: official

Bassem Abo Alabass, Thursday 16 Jun 2011

Freedom of nighttime movement will encourage Arab tourists and send a worldwide message about Egypt's new-found security, says the tourism ministry

Tourists ride on horse carts in the southern city of Luxor (Photo: Reuters)

"The lifting of Egypt's curfew will spark a response from tourists all across the world," Hisham Zaazou, senior assistant to Egypt's Minister of Tourism, has told Ahram Online.

Nighttime curfews imposed by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces were finally lifted on 15 June.

Zaazou said that the rebound in tourism would be fuelled by the resumption of regular nighttime flights to Egypt's airports and the optimistic message sent to tourists about the improvement in Egyptian security.

"Arab tourism will be mainly affected," Zaazou said, referring to the summer visits of thousands of non-Egyptian Arabs who typically make the most of Egypt's nightlife.

"Without a curfew they absolutely will flow."

Zaazou said he did not believe recent discussions on restarting Egypt-Iran diplomatic relations would have an affect on Gulf tourism, despite tensions between Gulf nations and the Islamic Republic.

"Syria is a good friend of Iran and Gulf tourists did not boycott it," he said.

Egyptian tourism may fall more than 25% in 2011, according to data released by CAPMAS this week, which predicted visitor numbers of under 11 million, down from 14.8 million in 2010.

Tourism revenue for the year may also drop to US$10 billion, down from $12.5 billion in 2010.
800,000 tourists visited Egypt in April, down from 1.24 million in the same month last year.

Egypt spent 138 days under nighttime curfew, with official restrictions on movement during set hours.

It was first imposed at 6pm on 28 January, the day protesters occupied Tahir Square, with curfew hours extended and shortened more than once since. For the last two months, the curfew was 2-5am.

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