CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt is a safe travel destination for both Arab and foreign visitors and will be even safer after the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections, said Hisham Zazou, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism.
“Tourism in Egypt might be sick but will not die,” he said. “The challenges facing the Egyptian tourism industry are unique. But at the same time, it is important to maintain a true picture of the situation in Egypt.
“Tourist destinations continue to be safe and secure and are still attracting thousands of tourists from around the world on a daily basis. We want to make it known that Egypt is a strategic, safe tourism destination for Arab and foreign visitors alike.”
Tourism in Egypt has suffered in the past two years due to political protests and unrest following the ouster of ex-president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
According to the tourism ministry, revenues from visitors dropped 50 per cent during the first quarter of 2014. Income from tourists fell from $12.5 billion in 2010 to $5.8 billion in 2013 owing to a rise in travel warnings to Egypt late last year after a few unprecedented attacks on tourists.
Zazou said that tourist numbers to the country are expected to rise to their previous highs after the parliamentary and presidential elections.
According to officials, Egypt is now eyeing the Gulf region to revive its tourism sector and has launched various initiatives as part of a larger campaign called ‘Wahashtouna’.
Starting from May 2014, tourists from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would be able to avail of holiday packages beginning from $400, which include a three-night stay in luxury hotels and air tickets to Egypt’s popular tourism destinations Sharm Al Sheikh and Hurghada.
To cater to an increasing number of tourists from the region, the flight frequency between Egypt and Gulf countries are also expected to increase, Zaazou said.
Officials announced the launch of the first Egypt Air and Egypt Air Express flights from Jeddah Airport to Hurghada—the airline will operate two flights per week starting from May 20.In addition, Air Cairo will also operate two flights per week from Kuwait to Hurghada starting from May 21. Direct flights between Riyadh and Hurghada will also launch soon.
Theses flights are in addition to the existing 12 services to Sharm El Sheikh fromRiyadh, Jeddah and Kuwait operating across four days a week.
Zazou said that the Egyptian tourism ministry is also in talks with the UAE-based airlines, Etihad and Emirates, to launch services to the country.
Arab countries are the second largest source of tourists for Egypt.
“Egypt has received more than 32 million tourists in the past three years, 20 percent of which were Arab tourists. This confirms the massive attraction that Egypt remains to be in the Arab world,” said Zazou.
In addition to tourists, Egypt is also looking east to the Gulf for investments in its tourism sector.
“I call upon Arab investors to invest in Egypt, particularly in the tourism sector, as we are currently providing them with easy and transparent procedures,” said Zazou.
“Arab investments represent nine per cent of the amount of foreign investments in Egypt. Arab investments in the tourism sector amounted to 2.180 billion Egyptian pounds, which reflects the importance of supporting this active sector.”