DUBAI: K.T. Abdurabb | Arab News staff
Published — Monday 6 May 2013
Last update 6 May 2013 4:10 am
Egypt’s historic and solid tourism base is helping it to withstand negative impacts and improve its performance, says Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou.
“Despite the challenges, I expect the tourism industry to return to normal levels. We are determined to reach the tourism peak levels achieved in 2010,” said Zaazou, who is currently visiting Dubai to attend the Arabian Tourism Market events.
Zaazou said the Egyptian tourism industry is continuing to grow and tourism is a top priority for the government.
“Our target is to increase visitor numbers 20 percent this year,” he said.
“Egypt has 200,000 hotel rooms, most of them located in the Red Sea and Sinai, and another 208,000 are under construction,” he said.
“Almost of 50 percent of service exports are due to tourism; 14.4 percent of foreign currency earnings and 11.3 percent of GDP are directly and indirectly due to tourism,” said the minister.
“The number of inbound tourists rose to 11.5 million in 2012 from 9.8 million in 2011,” said the minister.
He said the number of Arab tourists visiting Egypt hit a record of 2.3 million compared with 1.8 million in 2011 and 2.1 million in 2010.
Zaazou said the tourism ministry is launching a range of measures to restore tourism rates to normal levels and consequently driving more investments into the country.
Addressing a press conference in Dubai, Zaazou said his ministry has plans to offer many incentives and offers for Arab families who visit Egypt during the summer season.
He said the ministry has installed cameras in popular tourism locations to provide live feeds online which will reflect the calm and stable state they are in. This will aid in providing peace of mind for tourists, through showing them the level of safety found in these areas.
Zaazou said the tourism industry is considered to be a key pillar of Egypt’s national economy, accounting for 11.3 percent of GDP.
The industry also provides 15.2 percent of foreign exchange earnings, 45.1 percent of exports services and 9.2 percent of the volume of investments in the services sector.
In addition, it provides job opportunities for 12.6 percent of the total workforce in Egypt.
He also highlighted Egypt’s ranking as the 18th destination from the top 50 destinations worldwide and receiving the first place among the tourism destinations in MENA region during the year 2012.
“Tourism rates have started to return to normal levels, and to move toward the high rates witnessed in 2010,” he said.
“The first three months of the year 2013 saw a growth in the number of tourists coming to Egypt, which amounted for 2.8 million, reflecting an increase of 14.6 % compared to the first quarter of 2012,” the minister said.
“We will be concentrating our efforts on various global markets and in particular the Arab markets, as the number of Arab tourists amounted for 520,000 this year which reflects an increase of 7.5 percent compared to the first quarter of 2012,” he added.
Records show that the number of tourists who visited Egypt during the three months of 2013 is 2,865,097 tourists, compared to2,500,301 tourists in 2012 which shows an increase of about 14.6 percent. Furthermore, the number of nights tourists spent in Egypt is about 37 million nights, compared to around 29 million nights in the first quarter of 2012, which again shows an increase 28.1 percent.