Egypt to attract 20% more tourists this year

Wednesday, 6 May 2015 01:28 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(Reuters) - Egypt will attract about 20 percent more visitors this year compared with 2014, the tourism minister said on Monday, as the holiday sector recovers after four years of political upheaval, violence and street protests. About 2.15 million tourists visited the country in the first quarter, up 6.9 percent from a year ago, Khaled Ramy said. Advance bookings indicate the full-year total would be around 12 million, below 2010’s peak of 14.7 million but above 2014’s 9.9 million. “In the next four-and-a-half years we have to increase by double-digit (percentages) every year,” the minister said. Egypt’s tourism revenue reached a peak at $12.5 billion a year in 2010, but was less than half that in 2013 as turmoil in the run up to the army’s toppling of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi deterred visitors. Revenue last year was $7.3 billion, Ramy told a news conference in Dubai. “We would like to reach $26 billion by 2020,” he said. The number of forward bookings for this summer and winter are 15-20 percent higher than a year ago and visitor numbers in the first two weeks of April rose 19 percent year-on-year, he said. “By 2016 we will maybe surpass the levels of 2010,” said Ramy, who has struck a more upbeat tone since succeeding Hisham Zaazou in early March. That month, Zaazou warned Egyptian tourism would not fully recover by the end of 2015. Ramy said the tourism sector was also seeking to appeal to a younger market. “We would like to reposition Luxor, Aswan and the Nile valley as a young and vibrant product - usually if you say cultural tourism you think of people who are 50 plus, but we’d like to change that.” Egypt has 189,000 hotel rooms, with a further 154,000 under construction, the minister said. “By 2020 we should have enough space to accommodate 34 million tourists (annually),” he added.