CAIRO: Germany has decided it will soon ease its travel alert to Sharm el-Sheikh, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou said in a statement Monday.
Zaazou received a phone call Monday from German Ambassador to Egypt Hansjörg Habar, who said that Germany is intent on lifting its travel ban to nationals travelling to the Sinai Peninsula resort of Sharm el-Sheikh within the coming few hours, according to the statement.
The move follows last week’s meeting between Zaazou and Habar. During the meeting, they discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in the tourism field and Zaazou urged German authorities to reconsider the travel ban imposed on Egypt.
The decision is also due to coordinated efforts between the ministries of tourism and foreign affairs, and ongoing talks with the European Union to lift the travel ban to holiday destinations in the Red Sea, Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, Zaazou said.
“The decision is positive and will encourage several European countries to lift their travel bans to Egypt accordingly,” he added.
Hisham Ali from the tourism minister’s office told The Cairo Post that Monday the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic lifted their travel alerts imposed on Red Sea, South Sinai and Gulf of Aqaba destinations.
Germany, along with 15 other European countries, issued a travel warning to its citizens for the Sinai Peninsula following the bombing of a tourist bus in Taba in February that killed three.
Europeans visiting Egypt account for 72 percent of total tourism traffic to Egypt annually according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) statistics.
Mahmoud Shukri of the Tourism Promotion Authority told The Cairo Post Monday that Egypt will work more on promoting beach tourism in the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, as they are “far from the clashes and the political turmoil in Egypt’s troubled cities.”
Despite ongoing campaigns to assure foreigners that the country is a safe destination, the tourism sector has been facing a real crisis and has been in constant decline since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. This has exacerbated financial and organizational problems.
The number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped a significant 27 percent in February, according to CAPMAS. The losses in the sector are estimated at $6.8 billion in the past three years and tourism revenues fell to only $5.9 billion in 2013, down 41 percent from 2012.
Egypt depends on tourism for around 20 percent of its hard currency. The sector’s total investments are valued at $9.8 billion, according to the Ministry of Tourism.