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Tourism was way down in Egypt last year, and there are few hopeful signs that 2014 will be any different.
Egyptian tourism suffered yet another setback on Friday, after a series of explosions in the capital Cairo left at least five people dead and dozens more injured.
One blast, on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 revolution, struck the city centre, destroying the main police headquarters and damaging other buildings, including the Museum of Islamic Art, the Egyptian National Library and a courthouse. A second exploded in Dokki, across the river from downtown Cairo, and a third in Giza.
The British Foreign Office has updated its travel advice, urging Britons in Cairo to “exercise caution… particularly near government buildings, and where possible minimise travel around the city for the time being.”
Earlier this week it issued a warning for travellers in Egypt to “avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings” ahead of the January 25 anniversary.
The incident comes just two months after the Foreign Office lifted its warning against all but essential travel to large parts of Egypt, including Cairo, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Alexandria and Luxor – an advisory that was imposed in July last year following the ousting of Mohamed Morsi – and could deter potential visitors.
While the majority of Britons visiting Egypt head to the Red Sea resorts, such as Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, which have been largely immune to the unrest of recent years, many use Cairo as a base for exploring the pyramids of Giza.
Those that do wish to cancel an upcoming trip to Cairo will almost certainly not be able to do so free of charge, unless the Foreign Office once again warns against travel there.
Pru Goudie, general manager of On the Go Tours told the website Travelmole that it currently has 33 clients in Cairo, and that all are safe.
She added: “Certainly safety is of the upmost importance, but unless the Foreign Office changes its advice and reinstates a ban, we will continue to send our clients there.”
The explosions are yet another blow to Egyptian tourism.
As well as unrest following the 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, and last year’s removal of Morsi, the country has witnessed sporadic outbreaks of violence against Coptic Christians. In the Sinai, attacks and kidnappings by Bedouin tribesman have seen the Foreign Office advise against travel to most of the region, including the popular visitor attraction of St Catherine’s Monastery, although not the major resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab.
In January last year a wave of clashes took place in Cairo, Port Said and Suez after a court sentenced 21 football fans to death, and in February a hot air balloon crash in Luxor resulted in the death of 18 foreign tourists.
Such incidents have seen visitor numbers plummet. Reuters reported this week that revenue from tourism fell by 41 per cent to $5.9 billion (£3.6 billion) last year, compared with 2012. Speaking earlier this week, Omayma El Husseini, a director for the Egyptian Tourist Authority, told Telegraph Travel she was hopeful that tourism would “flourish” in 2014 .