SHAFAQNA – Tourism is showing rise again in Egypt, with 50 percent surge in bookings during the first half of 2018, following several years violence in the country in the aftermath of the 2011 Revolution.
Egypt started to become a premier tourism destination from 1975 onwards, as it established new embassies and eased visa restrictions for most European and North American countries. Tourism became a major tourism major sector the Egyptian economy, providing at its height in 2010, nearly $US 12.5 billion in revenue. It employed 12 percent of Egypt’s workforce as 14.7 million visitors marvelled at the country’s iconic monuments.
The 2011 Revolution hit hard, however, seeing a 37 percent decline in visitors; in 2014 the number of tourists declined by a further 25 percent, and their hesitation was further fuelled by terrorist attacks in the Sinai region. However, the situation again began to look hopeful in 2017, with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation marking Egypt as the second fastest-growing tourism destination of 2017.
The Egypt Independent reports that British tourism is set to increase in 2018, with a huge growth in bookings and flights for the year. This comes after the country implemented a flight ban to Sharm El Sheikh following the downing of a Russian plane over the Sinai peninsula in October 2015 which killed everyone on board.
According to Hisham El Sebai, the managing director of Egitalloyd, “Security is number one now in Egypt. All tourist sites are fully secured inside and out.” As for destinations to avoid, El Sebai doesn’t send his guests to the Western Desert and North Sinai. ”
Also in a move towards greater economic stability, the government allowed the currency to float to market rates in November 2017. In doing so, the Egyptian pound lost more than half its value in the short term. As a result, it’s a very affordable time to visit, with five-star hotel rooms costing as little as $200 per night, Forbes reported.
Thomas Cook, one of the largest tourism companies in Egypt, announced on Sunday that 500,000 tourists will visit the country in 2018.
Egypt’s Thomas Cook agent chairman, Moody Al-Shaer, said that the company had experienced a 50 percent surge in bookings during the first half of 2018, particularly to Red Sea destinations such as Hurghada and Marsa Alam, Arab News reported.
The US-based tour company specialising in travel to Egypt, Central Holidays, has also announced new travel program, Egyptian Streets reported.
“The occupancy rate reached its highest levels since July 2017. We also have a slight increase in prices since last year due to the high demand for Hurghada,” Azza Hussien, marketing manager of the Hilton Hurghada resort, told Arab News.
“One of the main drivers to Hurghada is the competitive pricing and value for money, and this is one of the major reasons leading to a rise in demand among tourists,” Hussien said.
Reports from airlines indicated a rise in British tourism to Egypt. International travel agencies have also forecast a surge in tourists from the UK, with bookings and flights set for a significant increase during 2018.
“With more than 40 UK flights a week, Egypt is again a dream destination for hundreds of thousands of British tourists,” John Casson, the UK ambassador to Egypt, said.
The envoy said at the end of 2017 that Thomas Cook planned to resume flights to the Egyptian city of Marsa Alam to accommodate “growing British demand” for Egyptian holidays.
The tour company suspended flights to the city 10 years ago.
Two flights from Birmingham airport and London Gatwick airport each week will support Thomas Cook’s plans.
The tourism minister said the return of Russian tourists since then “looked good”. Egypt is also seeing greater interest from tourists from East Europe, Asia and other Arab countries. As a result, tourism’s contribution to GDP will increase beyond the current 15 per cent, Ms Al Mashat said, The National reported.
The Red Sea resort of Hurghada has been listed as one of the top 25 destinations in the world.
“The stunning coral reefs and turquoise waters are perfect for windsurfing. Within easy reach of the Giftun Islands and the eastern Arabian Desert,” TripAdvisor wrote on its official website.
“It’s a relatively easy beach escape for Europeans, and some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling sites are just offshore,” it added.
“We come here every year, we love the place. Everyone smiles at you, we really feel at home here,” said Nancy Markaus, a Serbian tourist in Hurghada.
“We love Egypt and we love how friendly people are to us,” said Marten Lutz, a German tourist.
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