People, Travel

Egypt Expects Moderate Tourism Growth

Egypt Expects Moderate Tourism GrowthEgypt Expects Moderate Tourism Growth

Egypt’s tourism industry, hit by years of political upheaval and militant violence, is expected to post moderate growth this year and hopes a global advertising campaign will revive the sector vital for economic recovery, the tourism minister said.

Last year, 9.9 million tourists visited Egypt, a far cry from the 14.7 million that visited in 2010, before an uprising the following year triggered turmoil in the land of ancient sites and sea resorts, Reuters reports.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has restored some stability since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013, but not enough to persuade large numbers of foreigners that it is safe to return.

Minister Hisham Zaazou expects around 10 million tourists this year or slightly higher, one million less than the previous forecast of 11 million.

“From January until the end of August, the rise was very little, barely 5 percent,” he said.

“So if we move at the same rate, the numbers will be around 10 million ... or slightly higher.”

Around 6.6 million tourists visited so far this year, producing revenues of $4.6 billion, compared with 6.3 million in the same period of last year, when $4.509 billion were generated.

“I cannot say that the general climate is positive but the figures show that there is a modest improvement,” he said.

Zaazou expects tourism receipts to range between $7.5 billion to $8 billion by the end of the year. Receipts once peaked at $12.5 billion.

Tourism is a major source of hard currency in Egypt, where foreign reserves have tumbled from $36 billion before the uprising to $18 billion at the end of August.

Zaazou expects the tourism sector to pick up next year with double digit growth in the number of tourists and revenues ranging between $9 billion and $10 billion.

  Changing Perceptions

The rapid advance of Islamic State militancy has worried governments across the region. Egyptian officials say authorities have made great progress in the battle against the militants and accuse western media of exaggerating security threats.

Egypt has witnessed a rise in attacks on soldiers and police Sisi seized power.

Sinai-based militants who support the ultra-hardline IS have killed hundreds and have recently claimed attacks on western targets, such as a bombing outside the Italian Consulate in Cairo.

In a bid to restore confidence, Egypt will launch a global advertising campaign in November.

“The focus has been on such (negative) news even though we are sitting here, going to our work and dealing with the situation as if it is completely stable but this picture is not portrayed abroad,” Zaazou said.

“I believe that (changing perceptions) must be a priority at this stage because the current views on the situation in Egypt are not good, so we must work on that.”