The number of tourists visiting Egypt jumped in 2012 after plummeting the previous year, but arrivals have yet to recover to levels seen before a 2011 uprising, state media said on Wednesday.

Some 11.5 million travellers came to Egypt last year, up 17 percent from 9.8 million in 2011, the state news agency MENA said, quoting the state statistics agency. Western Europeans were the largest group of visitors, followed by Eastern Europeans and tourists from the Middle East.

A popular revolt that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 plunged the Arab country into two years of political turmoil, scaring off tourists and foreign investors.

Tourism was one of Egypt’s most important sources of foreign currency, which it uses to import food and fuel.

About 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, the last full year before the uprising.

Last month, 19 people, most of them Asian and European tourists, died when a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed near the ancient Egyptian town of Luxor.

Last week, Bedouin gunmen in the Sinai Peninsula seized and briefly held the country boss of U.S. oil major ExxonMobil and his wife as they were on their way to a Red Sea tourist resort.

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Tags: egypt, tourism
Photo Credit: General view of Egypt's largest mall in Cairo. Nasser Nuri / Reuters