Egypt is expected to lose $5 billion in tourism revenues this year as the country reels from the effects of coronavirus.
It was expected that the north African country’s tourist industry would make $16 billion in 2020 but this has been revised to $11 billion, according to Minister of Planning Hala El-Said.
As part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus Egypt has halted international air traffic and implemented a night-time curfew across the country and shut down the tourist hot spot of South Sinai.
Schools, mosques, churches, archaeological sites, restaurants, malls, and gyms have all been shuttered.
Egypt’s tourist industry has only just begun to recover after it took its first hit during the 2011 Egyptian uprising when tourists steered clear of the unrest.
Following this, the 2015 bombing of a Russian flight over the Sinai Peninsula, which killed 224 people, led to the halting of Russian flights to the country and a further stalling of the tourist industry.
In 2016 tourist numbers plunged to 5.4 million from 14.7 million in 2010.
The government’s appalling record on human rights abuses has also kept tourists away.
Official estimates say some three million tourist workers will suffer from the COVID-19 shutdown.
The government was criticised for dragging its feet to shut the country down, still allowing tourists to visit tourist sites up until mid-March for fear of the loss of revenue.
Authorities were thought to be massively underreporting the number of confirmed cases so as not to scare people away.
By 18 March, 45 people were confirmed to have the virus, contracted on board a Nile cruise ship, and six people had died.
Flights were suspended on that day.
Tourist workers have complained that the government has not compensated them for their loss of revenue.