Egypt sees ‘steep re­bound’ in tourists as in­dus­try re­cov­ers

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - BUSINESS -

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 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 and 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 Mashat. The an­nual num­ber of visi­tors be­gan plum­met­ing from a 2010 peak of more than 14 mil­lion fol­low­ing the pop­u­lar upris­ing that de­posed Hosni Mubarak the fol­low­ing year.

An­other re­volt that ousted Mubarak’s Is­lamist suc­ces­sor 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.

Some 8 mil­lion tourists vis­ited Egypt last year. “The govern­ment is try­ing to diver­sify tourist base, tar­get­ing trav­el­ers from Asia and Latin Amer­ica The $1 bil­lion Grand Egyp­tian Mu­seum, with more than 10,000 ar­ti­facts, will open in 2020,” Mashat said. – Bloomberg News

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