32.4% decline in tourists in March: CAPMAS
Tourists at the Luxor Temple - Courtesy of Scoopempire.com
By YASMINE SAMRA

CAIRO: The number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped 32.4 percent in March, to total 755,000 tourists, compared to 1.117 million tourists during March 2013, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics announced late Tuesday.

The tourism sector has been in a constant decline since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, despite ongoing campaigns to convince foreigners the country is safe. Egypt depends on tourism for around 11.3 percent of its GDP and provides 14.4 percent of hard currency, according to ministry data.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism announced an ambitious plan early this month to revive the tourism sector, hit by political unrest and Islamist insurgency.

Hisham Zaazou told Reuters in Dubai last week that “the world will see tourism returning to Egypt. We have an ambitious global plan to show the world that it is safe and fun to visit Egypt anytime.”

The plan aims to attract more than 25 million tourists by 2020. India, China and Latin America are to be major target regions in a marketing campaign, according to the minister.

In 2010, more than 14.730 million holidaymakers visited Egypt, compared to 9.5 million tourists last year, reflecting a 35.8 percent decline, CAPMAS said in its annual bulletin on tourism statistics.

The industry witnessed its peak in 2010, with $12.5 billion revenues, but unrest following the 2011 revolution has kept many tourists away. Revenues in 2012 netted $10 billion, followed by $5.9 billion in 2013, a 41 percent decline in one year.

The interim government said it aims to attract 12 million tourists in 2014, targeting $9 billion revenues by the end of the year, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism.

In its monthly bulletin on tourism, CAPMAS showed that the majority of tourists came from Eastern Europe in March, followed by Western Europe and the Middle East. The report pointed to a 43.6 percent decline in the number of nights tourists spent in the country. They spent 6.7 million nights in this period, down from 11.9 million nights in the corresponding month last year.

Approximately, 1.19 million Arab tourists visited Egypt over this period, compared to 1.8 million March 2013, registering a 33.9 percent decline, according to the report.

Egypt witnessed a 27 percent decline in foreign tourists in February, the Ministry of Tourism revealed, citing the Feb. 16 bombing of a bus that killed three Korean tourists and an Egyptian driver in city of Taba, next to the Israeli border.

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