Egypt reports big boost in Q1 tourism figures

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giza pyramids
Tourists take pictures next to the Pyramids in Giza, Egypt's most famous tourist attraction. Photo - Khalil Hamra/AP

Egyptian Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhry Abd Elnour in a surprise announcement said the number of tourists visiting Egypt during the first quarter of this year has gone 32% up from 2011.

“We had 2.5 million arrivals in the first quarter, a 32% rise from 2011. April was a great month for tourism and we expect this to continue,” he claimed while speaking at a tourism conference in Dubai, UAE. Egyptian tourism industry suffered the most during last year’s uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. Political uncertainty and worsening security situation in the Sinai peninsula after the public revolt dented the tourism industry and stemmed the influx of tourists.

The number of tourists coming to Egypt fell to 9.8 million In 2011, down from 14.7 million the year before. Compared to $12.5 billion in 2010 tourist revenues, the country received just $8.8 billion during last year. Despite the spate of kidnapping of tourists and foreign workers in the Sinai by local Bedouin tribes, as well as the arrest of foreigners by the Egyptian government, tourists, mainly from eastern Europe, increased their average stay from 10 days to 11.6, pumping much needed cash to the ailing economy.

“My aim for 2012 is to get back on track and have 14.5 million tourists. I am confident that we are going through better circumstances and Egypt will witness a comeback in tourism from all over the world and the Arab world,” Elnour said in his speech.

Egypt is taking several measures to revive the tourism industry, including investment in tourism-rich areas along the Red Sea and Mediterranean coast, and re-introducing Nile river tours from Cairo to Aswan.

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