European tourism to Egypt on the rise: airport officials
European passengers during their arrival to cairo airport - YOUM7 (Archive)
By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: The number of European passengers heading from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan has been increasing over the past few weeks, an official source at Cairo International Airport told The Cairo Post Thursday.

“Starting from mid-September, EgyptAir domestic flights from Cairo to Upper Egypt witnessed a notable increase in the number of European passengers versus Egyptian passengers,” said the source.

Sarah Hamdy, a hostess at EgyptAir, echoed the source’s statement, saying that her weekly work schedule since early September is proof of a notable increase in flights heading to Luxor and Aswan versus Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh.

“During summer, most of the passengers heading to Luxor and Aswan were Egyptians, but during September, the number of foreigners—especially from European countries—has increased,” she said. “In my last week’s flight schedule to Luxor and Aswan, I have seen many British and American passengers—more than any time since mid-2013.”

Violence and unrest in Egypt in the wake of the events of June 30 has badly affected the important tourism industry.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt during the first half of 2014 decreased by 25.4 percent compared to the same period last year, according to a Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) report issued Sunday.

Khaled Diaa, operation manager at Spring Tours, said the growth rate of confirmed bookings for tourists from Europe and North America in general has been significantly on the rise.

“The European market’s online and corporate travel bookings for travel packages that cover the period from October through December have increased by 20-30 percent compared to the same period last year,” Diaa told The Cairo Post Friday. “The majority of the confirmed bookings are from The U.K., France and Italy.”

A resumption of tourism is not just being noticed in Egypt, as some European travel agencies who previously left the country are planning their returns.

Insight Vacations is a global tour operator that has just decided to resume its Egypt operations after three years of remaining out of the market due to political unrest.

“We have been monitoring the destination closely and after extensive consultation with our teams on the ground, and in speaking with our travel partners, we are pleased and excited to be making a return into Egypt in January,” Paul Melinis, Insight Vacations’ U.K. director of sales, was quoted as saying by TTGdigital.com in late September.

Egypt’s tourism sector, which represents 11 percent of the country’s GDP, has been suffering from ongoing shocks ever since the 2011 January 25 Revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

Despite a few instances of apparent recovery, continuous instability, political turmoil and a lack of security have remained challenges to the sector over the past three years.

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