Sharm al Sheikh hotel occupancy rate soars during Coptic Easter
Tourists enjoy the sunny weather at the beach of the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh - AFP/Mohammed Abed
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 CAIRO: Hotel occupancy rates at Sharm al Sheikh soared to 24 percent Wednesday after 14,100 holiday makers, most of whom Egyptians, arrived to the Red Sea resort city to spend the Sham El Nessim holiday, the head of South Sinai’s task force Essam Khedr told Youm7.
Hotel occupancy rates at Sharm al Sheikh are expected to reach 50-60 percent during this week, he added.
Sham El-Nessim, Arabic for ‘smell the breeze’, is a celebration linked directly to ancient Egypt, and celebrated is by Egyptians of all religions. It always falls the day after Coptic Easter.
The number of tourists visiting Egypt has witnessed a sharp decline following the crash of a Russian airliner over Sinai late October. Germany, Italy, Russia, France, the U.K. are among the states that decided to halt flights to and from Egyptian airports shortly after the crash.
British and Italian tourists account for more than 65 percent of Sharm al Sheikh holiday makers, the Tourism Ministry’s economy adviser Adela Ragab was quoted earlier by Youm7.
The number of tourists visiting Egypt in February 2016 decreased by 45.9 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) reported.
In February, the U.K.-based Thomas Cook travel company cancelled all bookings to Sharm al-Sheikh until November 2016, extending a travel ban that began when the government suspended flights following the crash.
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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