Egypt anticipates travel boom when countries lift lockdowns, travel bans
Share this article:
by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO - The Egyptian tourism sector has recovered by 40 percent amid Covid-19 precautionary measures, eyeing further recovery after more countries lift relevant lockdowns and travel bans, said the chairman of Egypt's Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) in a recent interview with Xinhua.
"We've reached 40 percent of the number of tourists who used to visit Egypt before Covid-19, which is a very good rate given that the global average is 25 percent," the TPA chief Ahmed Youssef said.
He explained that Egypt opened its gates for tourism in April 2020 amid implementation of coronavirus precautionary measures at hotels, airports, flights, museums, tourist attractions and archeological sites.
"In May 2020, we allowed domestic tourism with hotel capacity of 25 percent, then we gradually increased it to 50 percent, and later on we opened our country for overseas tourism from July 1, 2020 and have never locked down since then," the head of TPA explained.
The official considered the government's recent decision to increase the capacity of hotels and entertainment places from 50 percent to 70 percent as "a very positive indicator."
Tourism is one of the key sources of income for Egypt and it accounts for around 12 percent of the country's GDP. It brought in 2019 a record high of 13 billion US dollars in revenues when it was visited by over 13 million tourists.
The hit came after a few years of declining tourism in Egypt caused by a Russian plane crash over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015 that left 224 fatalities, and a later EgyptAir plane crash in May 2016 that killed all 66 people on board.
Later, tourism in Egypt further declined due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the relevant lockdowns worldwide.
Last week, Russia, a top source of tourists to Egypt, officially announced a decision to lift the ban on charter flights by Russian airlines to Egyptian Red Sea resorts, including well-known Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, after nearly six years of suspension.
"We welcome any country that decides to allow its citizens to visit Egypt, and we understand the difficult conditions the world is going through and the necessary health and medical measures," the TPA chief told Xinhua, reassuring that all Egyptian tourist sites are "completely secured."
Youssef said that he's still not sure about the future inflow of Russian tourists. "We can't evaluate it until the actual implementation of the flight resumption decision."
Speaking of China, the Egyptian official expressed how Egypt values China and welcomes its tourists back in the near future.
"In my opinion, tourism is not just an economic source, but it expresses friendship and closeness among peoples and cultures. We have respectful relations with China and its people," the TPA chief emphasized.
"We hope that when circumstances are suitable, China will become one of our key tourist source countries," Youssef said.
Besides launching marketing campaigns everywhere in the world, the TPA sponsors international art and cultural events in Egypt as one of its marketing tools amid Covid-19 crisis.
It was also the TPA that organized the legendary Pharaohs' Golden Parade held in early April to celebrate moving 22 mummies from a museum to another in Cairo amid massive international media coverage.