Egypt lifts state of emergency in Sharm El-Sheikh

Dalia Farouk, Ahram Online, Tuesday 12 Nov 2013

Two days before state of emergency to be lifted across Egypt, government relaxes restrictions on Sharm El-Sheikh, Red Sea governorate

Sharm El-Sheikh
(Photo: AP)

Egypt's touristic city Sharm El-Sheikh and the Red Sea governorate will be exempt from the state of emergency as of today, the tourism ministry announced on Monday.

The state of emergency, which was imposed in Egypt on 14 August when police forcibly dispersed two sit-ins in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, is expected to end on 14 November.

According to an unofficial statement by Egypt's deputy prime minister, a nationwide curfew – enacted in tandem with the state of emergency – is also slated to end on 14 November.

In August, Egypt's cabinet approved lifting the curfew in Sharm El-Sheikh due to tourism concerns.

Some 20 countries have recently eased their travel warnings on Egypt, tourism minister Hisham Zaazou said at the Euromoney conference on Monday.

During the conference, Zaazou stressed the importance of European markets for improving the battered tourism sector, pointing out that more than 70 percent of Egypt's tourism relies on Europe.

The Ministry of Tourism aims to attract 13.5 million tourists by the end of 2014 and to boost tourism from India, added Zaazou.

The tourism sector, which accounts for about 9 percent of Egypt's GDP, has received several blows since a popular uprising forced president Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011. Prolonged periods of unrest and sporadic violence have led many countries to warn their citizens against travelling to Egypt.

Egypt attracted 14.7 million visitors in 2010, a record high. That fell to around 10 million in 2011, then rose to 11.5 million in 2012.

However, Zaazou said that in July and August, tourist arrivals crashed by 45 percent. Losses since then have been estimated at $1 billion per month, Reuters reported in September.

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