Tourists returning to Egypt amid improved security, lower prices

by WorldTribune Staff, May 21, 2018

Egypt’s vital tourism industry, which accounts for 15 percent of the national economy, is showing signs of rebounding after internal unrest and terrorism devastated the industry.

The Grand Egyptian Museum is scheduled to open in 2019. / Hill International

Amid tightened security, Egypt has enticed new visitors with lower prices, resulting in a 30 percent increase in the number of tourists during the first quarter of 2018 compared to the previous year, Tourism Minister Rania Al-Mashat said.

“As a country, and as Egyptian people, we have taken very important steps, and continue to take these steps, to secure … To make visitors feel safe and secure,” Al-Mashat said.

“The resumption of flights between Moscow and Cairo has been a very positive development, and we are ready to welcome citizens of Great Britain or any other nation at any point in time.”

Russia, which had been responsible for a large portion of visitors to Egypt’s popular Red Sea resorts, banned its flights to the country following a 2015 terror attack that brought down a Russian passenger plane, killing more than 200 people.

Prior to the Arab Spring uprising, 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010.

While still well below peak numbers, Egypt saw a major increase in tourism in 2017 with 8.3 million visitors and $7.6 billion in revenue. The number of visitors marked a 54 percent increase from 2016 and revenues jumped 123.5 percent year-on-year, the tourism ministry said.

“Going forward, what is very important for us is to diversify our visitor base. Focus more on Asia, also Eastern Europe, some of the emerging economies like Kazakhstan and so forth. That’s to help make the sector resilient, and less vulnerable to shocks,” Al-Mashat said.

The tourist industry should get another boost in 2019 with the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, home to over 50,000 artifacts. Work on the museum began seven years ago.

“To put all this culture, and all this heritage, in a modern setting, it’s very appealing,” Al-Mashat said. “It’s not just an important development for Egypt, but for heritage globally.”

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