Sharm al Sheikh Airport to receive 1,178 tourists Friday: source
The arrival hall is empty at the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in south Sinai, Egypt. Monday Nov. 9. AP

CAIRO: Some 1,178 tourists of different nationalities were scheduled to arrive at Sharm al Sheikh Airport Friday aboard eight international flights, the head of South Sinai’s task force Essam Khedr told Youm7 Wednesday.

The airport also will receive nine domestic flights carrying 646 Egyptians visiting the Red Sea resort city of Sharm al Sheikh, Khedr said, adding that the average occupancy rate at Sharm al-Sheikh hotels at the moment is estimated at 19 percent.

The above figures represent more than an 80 percent decline compared to any period before November 2014, he told Youm7 earlier this month, pointing out that “the sharp decline is caused by the travel ban imposed by Russia and some other European countries to Egypt following the Russian airliner that crashed over Sinai in late October.”

A total of 1,719 tourists departed the airport Wednesday, said Khedr. Resorts in South Sinai received 390 tourists from Eilat through the Taba border land crossing, he added.

“The government, in cooperation with some Arab investors and the private tourism sector, is currently in the process of establishing a global marketing company to promote tourism in Europe,” Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou was quoted by Youm7 Monday.

Speaking at a conference held by the Egyptian Travel Writers Association (ETWA) Monday, Zaazou announced that a total of 25 hotels had been shut down in Egypt’s resort cities of Sharm al Sheikh and Hurghada while occupancy rate at 70 others stood at 0 percent in the wake of the Russian plane crash.

Following the Oct. 31 Russian airliner crash that killed 224 passengers and crew, swift decisions were taken by a number of countries including Germany, Russia, France and the UK to evacuate their tourists from the resort town, after reports that a bomb may have been the cause.

Egypt’s political turmoil following the 2011 January uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak has badly affected tourism sector, which has only recently started to rebound.

The sector, which is the nation’s second highest source of national income after the Suez Canal provides direct and indirect employment to up to 12.6 percent of the country’s workforce.

Egypt’s tourism authorities said in late December that the country received 9 million tourists in 2015, down from a previously predicted 17 million.

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