Egypt tourism: counting the cost of conflict.

Author:Wells, Rhona

Egypt expects to attract 8.6 million tourists this year, down from 9.3 million in 2015, because of "the current situation", a spokesman for the country's Ministry of Tourism revealed. "We might go to an estimate of 9 million tourists if things get better," he added. "But, for the moment, we are expecting 8.6 million.

Home to many of the Middle East's most impressive ancient monuments and a "must see" destination for travellers from around the globe, the Egyptian economy is heavily reliant on its tourist receipts. The recent civil unrest and occasional outbursts of violence, some of which have directly targeted tourist areas, have had a serious impact on visitors numbers and, consequently, tourist revenue into the Egyptian government's coffers. The country welcomed 9.8 million tourists in 2014.

After the Russian plane crash over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, Moscow halted all civilian flights to Egypt, one of the most popular winter sun destinations for Russians. Egypt's new tourism minister, Yehia Rashed, plans to review his Ministry's charter incentive programme when it expires in November, with the aim of help attract more foreign visitors.

Talks are underway with EgyptAir to start direct flights to tourism destinations overseas and there will also be improvements and an upgrade of services at 11 overseas tourist offices. However, however inviting the inducements to visit, tourist numbers will only start to increase appreciably when there is peace and security on the streets. "There is no question that Egypt has attractions and qualities to offer that most countries can only dream of," a European tourist operator told The Middle East Online. "However," she added, "it doesn't matter how fantastic and financially reasonable a destination is, nobody wants to go on holiday to a place where the...

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