Egypt central bank launches tourism initiative

Ahram Online, Thursday 14 Mar 2013

New initiative by Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) aims to boost financing facilities for country's vital but ailing tourism sector

Holding steady: Egypt's central bank says latest currency figure is encouraging (Photo: Reuters)

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has announced an initiative to boost investment in Egypt's battered tourism sector.

"The banking sector has a 'national' duty to support Egypt's economy and help preserve the tourism sector, which is one of our main sources of foreign currency," the central bank said in a statement on Wednesday.

CBE will provide financing facilities to tourism-related activities, including the construction of hotels and tourist projects, travel agencies and booking services, land transport companies, restaurants and other entertainment activities.

The initiative is directed at performing and non-performing customers, excluding debtors of restructured and disputed loans.

The facilities to be provided by the banks include granting customers a maximum grace period of one year, whereby all pending payments are added to the original loan amount and customers are exempted from late payment fees.

Hotel occupancy rates have dropped by around 25 percent since the Egypt's uprising in early 2011, the tourism ministry has said.

The fall in tourism has damaged the country's public debt levels and is the main cause of the ongoing foreign currency crisis and the fall in currency reserves, the ministry added.

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