14% of Nile cruises operate with ‘trickle’ of tourists onboard: official
A Nile Cruise boat sails along the Nile River, a day after a hot air balloon crash left 19 foreigners dead, in Luxor February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO: A Tourism Ministry official has warned against a potential “unemployment crisis” among crews of Egypt’s Nile cruises operating between the country’s two top touristic destinations of Luxor and Aswan, calling on concerned bodies to intervene to save the employees amid what he described “unprecedented decline in occupancy rates.”

Only 40 out of 280 cruise liners between the two destinations are still setting sail while the remainder are “moored on the banks of the river awaiting the return of tourists,” Abdel Gawad Amin, Floating Hotels Dept. at the Tourism Ministry was quoted by Youm7 Friday.

“Despite the overall calm in the security situation in the area, the occupancy rate at those 40 operating cruises is 8 percent at the most,” Amin said, adding that most of guests aboard are from Germany, China and Holland.

Amin called on the Ministry of Tourism to develop an immediate plan to compensate the Nile cruises employees most of whom are “casual labor.”

The official has pointed out a notable sharp decline in number of operating Nile cruises during the past few weeks.

“Three weeks ago, 60 cruises were operating with 2,950 guests aboard while last week, the number declined to 45 cruises with a trickle of tourists onboard,” Amin said, pointing out that the decline coincides with Easter holiday; a high tourism season.

The cruise liners tour archaeological sites between Luxor and Aswan in three, four or seven-night packages. They are part of Egypt’s cultural tourism industry that is a major source of revenue.

Tourist numbers in Egypt have recently plummeted following the Russian airliner that crashed over Sinai late October. Other political crises, including the mysterious murder of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni that took place in Cairo earlier this year has negatively impacted Egypt’s second most important source of hard currency.


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