US embassy in Cairo (Photo: guardian.co.uk)
The United States, United Kingdom and Canada issued travel warnings to their nationals visiting Egypt amid ongoing protests and civil unrest in the country and are sending planes to evacuate their tourists, Elhamy El-Zayat, head of Egypt's Federation of Tourism Chambers (EFTC), told state-owned Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
El-Zayat described Egypt's tourist industry as having come to a complete standstill, reminiscent of the days of the January 2011 revolution.
Many trip cancellations are occurring, especially from the United Kingdom, the country with the third largest group of tourists visiting Egypt.
Egypt has witnessed mass protests in the past week, as millions of opponents and supporters of its embattled President Mohamed Morsi poured onto the streets.
Though protests have been largely peaceful, intermittent clashes have erupted in Cairo and other provinces, causing dozens of fatalities and leaving hundreds injured.
El-Zayat lamented the fact that the current unrest in the country decimated the positive results brought by two years of relentless effort by former tourism ministers Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour and Hisham Zaazou to revive tourism to Egypt.
He pointed to the latest figures released by the country's statistics body, CAPMAS according to which tourist went up by 14.7 percent in May, compared to the prior year.
Though Egypt welcomed around 970,000 tourists in May, the numbers have yet to match the 1.2 million who visited the country in May 2010, the most prosperous year for the sector.
Despite the big increase, tourists’ number is yet to reach the rate of the most flourishing year of tourism when 1.2 million tourists visited the country in May 2010.