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Plan for reviving Egypt's tourism
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 13 - 03 - 2012

CAIRO - The head of the Tourism Promotion Authority on Tuesday announced that there will be an urgent plan for restoring tourism to its level before the January 25 Revolution, with the target being about 15 million tourists per annum, the official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.
Omar el-Ezabi said that the plan focuses on stressing that Egypt is a safe place for tourists to visit, as well as concentrating on several markets abroad, such as England, Italy and Germany.
In his speech yesterday before the People's Assembly's (PA) Media, Tourism and Culture Committee, el-Ezabi added that the Ministry is now focusing on the highly profitable external tourist markets, adding that there are advertising campaigns to promote tourism, costing around $10 million.
Explaining that there are problems in the Gulf markets, he called for opening a tourist office in the Gulf region, suggesting Kuwait as its location.
El-Ezabi also suggested focusing on various types of tourism, especially safari and Nile tourism, calling on the citizens of Sinai to organise safaris in their governorates.
He added that there will be a developed system in the Ministry for reviving tourism.
Sailing on the Nile River has always been popular with tourists visiting the country, but, for the past 16 years, an historic Nile route has been put on hold.
Now, tour operators and Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour are hopeful that the relaunching of the Cairo-Aswan cruises will help revive the idea.
The Ministry of Tourism confirmed at the ITB Berlin Travel Expo that the historic route between Cairo and Aswan in Upper Egypt will soon be revived, increasing hopes of a return to pre-uprising tour levels, which have dropped sharply in the past year as a result of the unrest in the country.
The voyages were stopped in the 1990s because of security and environmental concerns, with current cruise vacations taking in the sites between Luxor and Aswan.
Egypt hopes its participation in the ITB Berlin event will help spur its tourism industry which saw arrivals in 2011 down by a third to 9.8 million from 14.7 million in 2010, officials said.
The head of the Tourism Committee in the PA Mohamed el-Sawi, an MP, read the Egyptian tourist document, recently presented in Berlin, to his fellow parliamentarians.
“We are pious and religious people, who respect freedom of doctrine and worship. We also respect everyone's privacy and don't interfere in personal freedom,” he said.
The document stressed Egyptian hospitality, which means that Egyptian people want visitors to be safe in the country, without any fear of being assaulted, harassed or exploited.
El-Sawi added that this document has been welcomed by all and is having a great influence, stressing that tourism in Egypt will soon bounce back.
Some MPs called for launching a tourism satellite channel, as in European countries.
With revenues apparently falling only 30 per cent compared to 2010, the tourism sector's performance in 2011 was better than anticipated.
Total revenues from the sector hit $8.8 billion (LE53.13 billion) in 2011, down from $12.5 billion (LE75.47 billion) the previous year.
With the onset of the revolution, hotel occupancy rates in Cairo dropped to as low as 5 per cent. However, the resort areas on the Red Sea and in Sinai witnessed a much smaller drop, as these areas were somewhat isolated from the violence in the capital.

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