Egypt Sees ‘Steep Rebound’ in Tourists

Egypt Sees ‘Steep Rebound’ in Tourists

Friday, 9 November, 2018 - 06:15
A Chinese tourist poses for a photo in front of the Sphinx at the Giza Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat
The number of tourists to Egypt soared 40 percent in the first nine months of 2018 from a year earlier, recovering from a slump that began with the so-called “Arab Spring” and continued as unrest persisted, the tourism minister said.

“We expect that by the end of 2018 we will not be at the levels that we’ve seen in 2010, but we are approaching that,” Rania Al-Mashat told Bloomberg TV. “The rebound is quite steep and we’re trying to put the industry on a competitive base compared to our peers.”

The government plans to announce a new private equity fund to upgrade its hotels as well as new investment opportunities on islands in the Red Sea, she said.

Tourism is critical to Egypt’s economy, accounting for 20 percent of output, according to Al-Mashat. The annual number of visitors began plummeting from a 2010 peak of more than 14 million following the popular uprising that deposed longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak the following year.

Another revolt that ousted Mubarak’s successor Mohammed Morsi in 2013 and frequent militant attacks including the 2015 bombing of a Russian jetliner that killed all 224 on board have further depressed the industry. The death of two British tourists at a Red Sea resort this year added health-related concerns.

Al-Mashat also said that the government is trying to diversify the tourist base, targeting travelers from Asia and Latin America.

Asked about the $1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum, with more than 10,000 artifacts, she said it will open in 2020.

Some 8 million tourists visited Egypt last year.

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