Pyramid selling: Egypt invests to bring back the tourists

A minaret of mosque is seen in front of the Giza pyramids area, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, in this September 10, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 September 2017
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Pyramid selling: Egypt invests to bring back the tourists

CAIRO: Egypt’s drive to restore its tourism industry to pre-2011 levels has received a boost with a prestigious award for one of its promotional films.
The 80-second video called “This is Egypt” shows historical sites such as the pyramids and Pharaonic temples, along with cultural, marine and entertainment activities.
It was selected as the Middle East’s best promotion at the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization in China, beating 63 other contestants.
Since 2011, Egypt’s tourism industry has been devastated by political unrest, an airline disaster, church bombings and terrorist attacks, many of them aimed at tourist targets.
In 2010, the tourism industry employed 12 percent of the workforce and Egypt welcomed about 14.7 million visitors, who contributed $12.5 billion to the economy. The nadir came in October 2015, when a Russian passenger airliner crashed in Sinai shortly after taking off from the popular Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board. That year the number of tourists fell to 9.3m, with revenues of $6.1bn.
Now, however, the drive is on to bring the tourists back.
“The Tourism Ministry had been investing a lot in promotional campaigns, specifically across Western countries, in bid to revive tourism,” Ali Ghoneim, an industry expert and former member of the Egypt Federation of Chambers of Tourism, told Arab News.
The Russian transport minister Maxim Sokolov said last week that Russian passenger flights to Egypt, suspended after the Sinai crash, could resume within a month, although he has made such remarks before.
“Every now and then Russian officials come out with statements saying that flights are going to resume. It is unclear why the step is delayed,” Ghoneim said.
“Egypt has been strictly applying security measures at all its airports. And we have to consider that the best global airlines have been and are still flying to and from Egyptian airports, in a clear sign that airports are safe.”
Several European countries that suspended flights to Sharm El-Sheikh after the 2015 crash have resumed them.
Ghoneim said the number of tourists visiting Egypt in the first three months of 2017 rose by 51 percent over the same period last year, but the target was still pre-2011 levels.


Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

Updated 20 May 2019
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Lebanese budget protesters clash with security in Beirut

  • Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut
  • Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt

BEIRUT: Security forces opened water cannons on Lebanese anti-austerity protesters in the country’s capital on Monday, as the government continued to hold marathon meetings to discuss severe budget cuts.
Lebanon faces a looming fiscal crisis as the economy struggles with soaring debt, rising unemployment and slow growth. The government’s tightened budget and key reforms aim to unlock billions of dollars in pledged foreign assistance. But planned cuts have unleashed a wave of public discontent, amid leaks that austerity could target public wages, services and social benefits.

A retired Lebanese soldier chants slogans while holding an army flag, during a protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday. (AP)

Over one hundred protesters gathered Monday outside the Government House in downtown Beirut shouting “Thieves, thieves!” as the Cabinet met for its 16th session and struggles to reach agreement.
Protesters pushed back against police lines and set fire to tires outside the building. At least two policemen and one civilian were wounded in the scuffles.
Among those demonstrating Monday were public and private school teachers and retired officers.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has sought to calm nerves while also describing the upcoming budget as the most austere in Lebanon’s history.
Hariri said he hopes the government will be able to send the budget to parliament later this week.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said the cabinet made “important progress” in discussions Sunday.