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Egypt provides 15,000 new hotel rooms to revive tourism

Tourists gather to watch the sunrise on the day of the winter solstice in Egypt on 21 December 2016 [Anadolu Agency]‬
Tourists gather to watch the sunrise on the day of the winter solstice in Egypt on 21 December 2016 [Anadolu Agency]‬

Between 10,000-15,000 new hotel rooms have been made available to tourists visiting Egypt this year, the chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation has revealed.

In an interview with Reuters, Ahmed Al-Waseef said a similar number is expected to be ready for greet tourists in 2020.

The tourism sector is an essential pillar of Egypt’s economy, a source of livelihood for millions of citizens and a major source of foreign currency.

“According to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), there is a surge in tourism figures. Revenues are higher than those of 2010, which were  about $11.6 billion. We have recovered digitally but we can reach more. However, 2010 figures were not our goal,” Al-Waseef added.

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Egypt’s tourism revenues increased by 28.6 per cent in the fiscal year 2018-2019 to $12.6 billion, compared with $9.8 billion in the fiscal year 2017-2018, according to CBE data.

“In fact, there is a 30 per cent increase in tourism revenues and numbers of tourists, which is proof of the tourism’s ability to recover. Tourists from North America, Germany and Europe, in general, are on the rise. We have begun working on returning back the ‘cultural tourism’ also.” Al-Waseef said.

A government document, seen by Reuters in August, showed that Egypt aims to increase the number of tourists visiting the country to 12 million in 2019-2020, up about 11 per cent from the previous fiscal year, and to increase the number of nights tourists spend in hotels to 127 million in 2019-2020 up from 113 million nights a year ago.

Tourism, which has sharply declined since the country fell into unrest as a result of mass protests – held in 2011 – calling for the ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, is one of Egypt’s most important sources of foreign currency.

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The decline in tourist numbers, along with the mismanagement of government funds have forced the government to look for new forms of revenue including taking out a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In July 2017, Egypt increased domestic electricity prices by between 18 and 42.1 per cent for the fiscal year 2017/2018. The government in Cairo also increased fuel prices for the second time a month earlier by between 5.6 and 100 per cent. It has been implementing an economic reform programme since 2016, including the adoption of value-added tax (VAT), cuts in energy subsidies and floating the Egyptian pound in order to revive the economy.

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