CAIRO: Egypt’s tourism industry “is at rock bottom” and occupancy rates of resorts in Sharm el-Sheikh and the Red Sea have declined to 48 percent, down from 55 percent a week earlier, Bassam Halaqah, the head of the General Tourism Syndicate, told The Cairo Post Tuesday, adding that 20 percent of hotel reservations in Sharm el-Sheikh had been cancelled.
Halaqah said warnings issued by the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and Switzerland against traveling to Sharm el-Sheikh would have a significant negative impact on tourism.
The warnings came following a bomb attack on a tourist bus in Taba on Feb. 17 that left three South Koreans and one Egyptian dead. The attack also injured 13 South Koreans and three Egyptians.
Halaqah added that the low turnout to the Egyptian wing of the Internationale Tourismus-Borse Berlin “proves how much street protests, explosions, and violence had a negative impact on Egypt’s tourism.”
As a part of an effort to convince the world that Egypt was safe for visitors in the wake of the recent Taba bombings Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou had inaugurated the Egyptian wing of the 2014 Internationale Tourismus-Borse Berlin, the leading international travel industry fair.
“Although Egypt’s tourism industry has been hard hit by the political unrest of the past few years, Egyptian resorts have still been able to attract significant tourist number,” Halaqah added.
Egypt had witnessed a 24 percent increase in the number of tourists in the period from January 2013 until the days before the June 30 events; yet since June 30 tourism declined by 45%, Hisham Zaazou, Minister of Tourism, had said in February on Russia Today Channel.
Hossam Darwish, an expert on E-tourism, told The Cairo Post Tuesday that hotel workers who rely on tourism for a living had been hit the hardest from the decline in tourism.
E-tourism is a term describing the application of information technology and communications technology to the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.
Darwish said E-tourism was one of the solutions to attract tourists to Egypt, adding that the “culture of E-tourism needs to be introduced to Egypt’s society to help attract online tourism from emerging markets around the world.”