CAIRO: The number of tourists who visited Egypt during the first quarter of 2015 increased by three percent compared to the same period last year, Tourism Minister Khaled Ramy told state-run Al-Ahram Wednesday.
Ramy also anticipated a 15 percent increase in hotel reservations during Egypt’s 2015 tourism summer season (April-September) compared to the same period last year.
“The flow of tourists to Egypt is expected to increase from 10 million in 2014 to 12.5 million by the end of this year,” he added.
The number of tourists visiting Egypt increased by 5.5 percent in January 2015 compared to January 2014, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS,) Egypt’s official statistical agency.
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.
The government recently announced, and then revoked, a measure that would have required all foreign tourists traveling independently to obtain entry visas in their home countries before coming to Egypt. The government said it would not enforce such a ruling until it sets up an electronic visa system for travelers.
“The government aims to attract 20 million tourists per year by 2020,” said Ramy.
The minister’s expectations represent a significant rise in tourism flow if compared to 2010; Egypt’s peak year that has witnessed a record of 14.7 million tourists who had visited the country. Tourism sector in 2010 had generated $12.5 million in revenues.
Egypt’s tourism sector, which represents 11 percent of the country’s GDP, has been suffering from ongoing shocks ever since the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
Several European countries including Germany, Italy, Ireland, Denmark and Spain lifted their travel bans to certain parts of Egypt during the end of 2014.
Despite a few instances of apparent recovery, continuous instability, political turmoil and a lack of security have remained challenges to the sector.