Egypt tourism down in 2009, set to recover in 2010


Egypt, home to the pyramids of Giza, recorded a slower-than-anticipated decline in tourism revenue last year and is targeting 6.9 percent growth in receipts in 2010 as the global economy recovers, the tourism minister said.

Revenue in 2009 declined 2 percent to $10.76 billion from the previous year, Zoheir Garranah said in a news conference today in Cairo.

“We see signs of recovery,” he told reporters. “Since September we have been having positive growth.” Expansion this year will be “significant,” though conditions will remain tough for many in the industry, he said.

Egypt’s economy depends on tourism, foreign direct investment and revenue from the Suez Canal for foreign currency. Tourism also accounts for 12.6 percent of jobs, Garranah said.

The economy of the most populous Arab country expanded 4.7 percent in the fiscal year through June and the government expects growth of about 5 percent in the current fiscal year.

EFG-Hermes Holding SAE, Egypt’s biggest publicly traded investment bank, had forecast 2009 tourism revenue of $10.63 billion. Beltone Financial, another Cairo-based investment bank, forecast $10.6 billion, while Investment bank CI Capital estimated $8.2 billion.

Egyptian for Tourism Resorts rose 1 percent to 2.01 Egyptian pounds ($0.37) today in Cairo.

Tourist arrivals dropped 2.3 percent to 12.5 million in 2009, the government said in January. The ministry aims to attract 14 million tourists this year, Garranah said.

Russia maintained its position as the main source of tourists to Egypt, sending more than 2 million people in 2009, up 11.5 percent from the previous year, Garranah told the news conference.

Apart from the Pyramids, Egypt also attracts tourists seeking sun, sand and diving along its Red Sea coast and in the Sinai Peninsula.