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Egypt reported a rise in tourists and revenue from tourism last year, which the country’s politicians welcomed as a sign of recovery since the Arab Spring.
Hisham Zaazou, the Egyptian Tourism Minister, announced a 17 per cent increase in 2012 tourists and 13 per cent rise in tourism income yesterday when compared to 2011.
He did not give exact figures but the percentage rises suggest 11.5 million tourists came in 2012 and generated £6.2 billion ($9.9 billion), according to a Reuters calculation. In 2011 the country attracted 9.8 million tourists and brought in £5.5 billion ($8.8 billion).
However, the current figures represent a 22 percent decrease in visitors and 25 per cent less revenue than in 2010, and fall short of the 20 per cent increase in visitors predicted by the minister at the end of last year.
The country saw a substantial dip in visitor figures following the political uprising of January 2011 that led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
Tourism accounted for an estimated 11 per cent of Egypt’s economy prior to the Arab Spring.
Last year, the minister said the Muslim Brotherhood’s success in Egypt’s recent presidential elections would not affect the country’s beach tourism and threw his support behind safeguarding established resorts on the Red Sea, such as Sharm el-Sheikh, and restoring the high levels of tourism before the uprising.
“We did better than anyone expected despite the problems we had,” Zaazou said.
“We can move close to figures of 2010 by the end of 2013. We hope to pave the way for a comeback,” he said.
The Foreign Office currently advises against all travel to North Sinai and all but essential travel to parts of South Sinai, with the exception of the Red Sea resorts, including those in Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab.
Rallies and marches are planned in Cairo tomorrow and January 25 to mark the second anniversary of the revolution.