Camel drivers wait for customers at the Pyramids Plateau in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
The number of tourists that visited Egypt during the third quarter of 2011 dropped 24 per cent below the same period in 2010 to reach 2.8 million tourists, according to the latest data from Egypt's official statistics body.
The report, released Wednesday, indicated that tourism has been hit hard with the consecutive waves of unrest that Egypt has been witnessing since a popular uprising that started on 25 January unseated president Hosni Mubarak.
The largest drop in visits to Egypt was seen in Western European tourists, whose number dropped by a third in July-September 2011 below the same period last year. They were followed by Middle Eastern tourists whose number dropped 22 per cent.
Despite this drop, Western and Eastern Europe tourists still were the majority during the quarter, making up 75 per cent of total visits. Middle Eastern tourists came in third with 17 per cent of total tourist visits.
Egypt's tourism minister forecasted in early December that Egypt will see a total of 10.5 million tourist visits by the end of 2011, bringing in a total $9.5 billion in revenue.
The tourism industry is traditionally one of Egypt's largest foreign currency earners, generating $12.5 billion last year. The country saw 14.8 million tourists in 2010, which generated around 12.5 per cent of Egypt's GDP, according to Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour in a recent TV interview.
Abdel-Nour specified that Egypt had already seen 9 million tourists in the year by the end of November and that it will host a further 1.5 million in December, with Christmas and the New Year traditionally being one of the busiest seasons.