Egypt sees 50pct decrease in tourists in first half of 2016: Tourism Authority

Dalia Farouq , Tuesday 9 Aug 2016

File photo of the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh (Reuters)
File photo of the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh (Reuters)

The number of tourists coming to Egypt dropped by 50 percent in the first half of 2016 compared to the same period last year, the head of Egypt's Tourism Authority Samy Mahmoud said.

Only three million tourists visited Egypt in the first six months of 2016, Mahmoud told Ahram Online.

Mahmoud added that tourism revenues during the period witnessed a drop of 60 percent compared to 2015, adding that all tourism markets in Egypt have seen a fall, except for tourists coming from Ukraine and China, whose numbers saw a 30 percent increase year-on-year.

Egypt saw $6.1 billion in tourism revenue in 2015, as the total number of tourists and nights spent dropped by 6 percent and 14 percent respectively from 2014.

Tourism revenue totaled $500 million in the first quarter of 2016, around 66 percent down compared to the same quarter a year earlier, a tourism ministry adviser told Reuters in April.

The ministry official attributed the decline to Russia's suspension of passenger flights to Egypt following the October crash of a Russian airliner in Sinai that killed all 224 people on board.

The UK has also suspended flights to Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh following the crash, citing security concerns.

According to Mahmoud, Russian and British tourists amounted to 45 percent of the number of tourists coming to Egypt.

Officials have said that Egypt has been losing EGP 2 billion monthly due to the continuous blows to tourism.

Tourism is an important source of foreign currency for Egypt, which has been seeking billions in foreign financing facilities to address a severe hard currency shortage with FX reserves down to $15.5 billion in July.

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