Egypt sees 0.5% drop in tourists in first 8 months of 2013

Dalia Farouk, Ahram Online, Friday 20 Sep 2013

A recent report by the Ministry of Tourism reveals that foreign visitor numbers have decreased in 2013, amid travel warnings and protests

An Egyptian man walks through an empty alley in the Khan El-Khalili market, normally a popular tourist destination, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, August 21, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Egypt received around 7.25 million tourists in the first eight months of 2013, 0.5 percent less than the numbers during the same period last year, a recent report released by the Egyptian tourism ministry states.

According to the report, the most substantial decrease came from Middle Eastern tourists to Egypt, whose numbers fell to 1.15 million visitors, some 7.8 percent less than the same period in 2012.

With that group, Syrian visitors were the exception. The number of Syrians who entered Egypt in the first eight months of 2013 reached 24,000, compared with 12,000 in the first eight months of the previous year.

The number of North and South American tourists visiting Egypt has plummeted 6.7 percent, from 1.90 million in the first eight months of 2012 to 1.77 million during the same period this year. African tourism to Egypt has decreased by 3 percent from last year's figures to reach 2.7 million.

The number of tourists from Asia and the Pacific decreased by 0.4 percent in 2013 to reach 2.49 million visitors, compared to 2.5 million in the corresponding period last year.

On the other hand, European tourism in Egypt has increased by 1.5 percent in 2013, reaching 5.38 million visitors, up from 5.30 million visitors during the same period in 2012. Numbers of Russian tourists, who represent the biggest number of visitors from Europe, have also increased over the last eight months, bringing in 1.74 million visitors in 2013 compared to 1.41 million visitors the previous year.

In early July, ongoing protests and civil unrest caused Canada, the United States, Russia, and a number of other states to issue travel warnings to their citizens following the 30 June deposal of former president Mohamed Morsi amid nationwide popular protests. The warnings recommended that citizens avoid all travel to Egypt and provided evaculation plans for citizens who wished to leave the country.

In August, the Russian Federal Aviation Agency ordered airlines to create contingency plans to evacuate Russian tourists from Egypt due to nationwide instability following the military dispersal of major sit-ins in support of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Earlier this week, Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou flew to Russia to ask the foreign ministry to remove its travel warnings on Egypt. Zaazou hopes to persuade Russian officials to lift the 15 August travel warnings or exclude the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates, which he believes to be safe areas for tourism.

On Thursday, an official delegation from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs arrived in southern Sinai to evaluate the security situation in the tourist-friendly Red Sea governorate.

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