Egypt no longer expects its tourism industry, battered by three years of political upheaval, violence and street protests, to fully recover by the end of the year, the tourism minister said.
“I don’t think (the tourism market) will fully recover (by end-2015), meaning to get back the business that we used to have before the Egyptian revolution in 2010,” Hisham Zaazou told Reuters at the ITB travel trade fair last week, shortly before he was replaced in a cabinet reshuffle.
The uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak four years ago hit the country’s economy hard, discouraging investors and tourists and slashing economic growth to below two per cent in 2010/2011.
In September, Zaazou had said that tourist numbers could recover to pre-uprising levels of 14.7 million visitors in 2015 if regional turmoil did not spread to the Arab world’s biggest country.
“We are still 40 per cent below that. I don’t believe that we will make up for the 40 per cent in one year,” he said at ITB.
“I think somewhere maybe between 15 and 20 per cent, if we go the way we’re going, could be achievable. So in two years’ time maybe we could achieve that (original target).”
Egypt received 9.9 million tourists in 2014, up from 9.5 million in 2013. Tourism accounts for 11.3 per cent of Egypt’s economy and 19.3 per cent of its foreign currency revenues.
Egypt named Khaled Abbas Rami as its new tourism minister, replacing Zaazou, in a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday.