Egypt’s tourism industry recovers as the number of tourists increase.
The sector had been ravaged by political instability and the attack on the Russian plane in Sinai in 2015.
The thrill of the country, the pyramids and the famous ancient sites of the Nile have gone through some remarkable changes since October. It is mainly due to Chinese, Japanese and Ukrainian tourists while Westerners remain cautious.
A boon for a sector in crisis since the revolt of 2011 against Hosni Mubarak and the coup de grace with the crash of a Russian aircraft departing from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in October 2015 .
The attack was claimed by the jihadist Islamic group. 224 people on board were reported dead. To that effect , Russia suspended all its flights to Egypt, and British aircrafts going to Sharm el-Sheikh.
The number of tourists had fallen to 5.3 million in 2016 compared to 9.3 million the previous year, according to the spokesman of the Ministry of tourism, Omaima al-Husseini.
But in December 2016, the number of tourists visiting Egypt reached 551.600 against 440,000 a year earlier, according to the statistics bureau.
The number of reservations between October and January “is also higher in comparison with the same period a year ago”, says Karim Mohsen, president of the Federation of Chambers of Tourism in Egypt. “This improvement is noticeable especially in cultural tourism: Cairo, Luxor and Aswan”, according to the owner of a travel agency.
In China, the largest public travel agency , the CITS (China International Travel Service) confirms a 58% increase in the number of tourists to Egypt in 2016.
And in Japan, HIS travel agency also confirms that the number of tourists to Egypt has “increased four to five times” between 2015 and 2016.
In 2010, Egypt had a record of 14.7 million passengers.
In a country going through one of the worst economic crises in its history, with record inflation and high unemployment, the return of the tourism bonanza would be welcome.
“Our goal is to reach the 10 million tourists, provided that the Russia and the United Kingdom lifted their restrictions,” announced Mrs. Al-Husseini. “There are ongoing negotiations” and “We hope that this issue will be resolved as soon as possible.”
Before the air tragedy, 62% of tourists travelling by plane to Sharm el-Sheikh came from these two countries.
“As long as the Russians are not coming back, there will be a strong paralysis. Because the British are the backbone of Sharm el-Sheikh,“acknowledges Mr. Mohsen.
In early February, four European countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland) lifted travel restrictions imposed on the South of Sinai.