Egypt visitor numbers are returning to their 2010 peak after years of upheaval as authorities look to adventure and cultural tourism to help fuel growth for a key source of foreign exchange, an official said.

Tourism, which makes up about 15 percent of Egypt’s economy, was badly shaken by the 2011 uprising and further battered by a series of attacks targeting tourists, including the downing of a Russian jetliner in the Sinai about four years later. As security has improved, tourists have returned; the UK in October lifted its advisory against commercial airlines flying to the Sinai’s major resort.

Earnings were over $12.5 billion in the 2018–19 fiscal year, “the highest tourism revenue in Egypt’s history” and a validation of authorities’ new, stricter standards for accommodation and global promotion efforts, Tourism Minister Rania Al-Mashat said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Beijing.

The North African country is also developing options beyond “cultural heritage or sun and sea,” according to Al-Mashat. “Today’s travelers are looking for experience, they’re looking for diversity of offer, and they’re looking for being part of the local community,” she said, citing the potential of the Red Sea Mountain Trail, a 170-kilometer (106 miles) trekking route near the resort of Hurghada.

“By December 2019, we will have reached the peak of 2010 in terms of tourist numbers,” Al-Mashtat said. The opening of the much-touted “billion-dollar” Grand Egyptian Museum near the pyramids of Giza that’s slated for next year will also be a major draw, she said.

—With assistance from Michael Gun

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Photo Credit: A resort on the Red Sea in Egypt. Mathias Apitz / Flickr