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Egypt’s Crisis Leaves Tourism Industry Struggling

Few sectors of the Egyptian economy have suffered more than tourism since the 2011 revolution.

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A main source of revenue and foreign currency, tourism in Egypt has been battered as a result of political instability and violence over the past few years.

At its height in 2010, more than 14.5 million tourists visited Egypt. That dropped to 9.5 million last year.

Revenues have more than halved in that period – from £7.8bn to £3.7bn, causing around 400,000 jobs to be lost, according to government figures.

Egypt’s tourism minister told Sky News the last few years have been a disaster, but he’s optimistic about the future – he predicts that by 2016 tourism revenue will surpass the 2010 figures.

He said: “I feel more comfortable, confident, that it will take a trend upwards, maybe on a zig-zag basis sometimes because I don’t claim we are there 100% as we used to be before the Egyptian revolution.

“But I think we are moving in that direction and that’s why I’m happy.”

One of the holiday destinations the government is promoting is the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh.

The past two months have seen an increase in the number of visitors, mainly from Europe and particularly from the UK and Russia.

We spoke to several tourists who said they felt safe and far removed from the violence. Most of them had flown directly to Sharm, by-passing Cairo.

As Christine Lawn from the UK explained: “There could be something going on in Cairo but you wouldn’t have a clue here in Sharm and I think people are really keen to make sure there are no troubles here, because it’s their livelihoods.”

While it’s relatively safe in the resorts in south Sinai, Egypt’s military has been battling extremist groups in the north of the peninsula – making it a no-go area.

The UK government advises tourists to stick to the beaches, which means many don’t go on desert excursions any more.

Janet Howe and her husband Tim sold up and left their home near Manchester eight years ago to run a tour company in Sharm.

She says she understands why people may be afraid to visit Egypt.

She told Sky News: “I have family back home and when they see things on the TV, I’ll get a call that evening to see if I’m alright, and isn’t it time you came home.”

“I think there’s still a long way to go to go back to the normality, get back to the boost we had here many years ago,” she added.

Locals complain it’s mainly the big hotels that are making money and benefiting from the increase in the number of tourists.

As a result of more all-inclusive package holidays being available, and the increased security concerns, many guests prefer to stay in their hotels rather than spend money at the local markets and restaurants.

Millions of Egyptians depend on tourism to make a living and the country’s new president, Abdul Fattah al Sisi, has pledged to get the industry back on its feet.

Whether he manages to do so could determine whether he keeps an already struggling economy afloat.

 

Yahoo News

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