Egypt tourist numbers tumble again in March as turmoil drives visitors away

CAIRO Tue May 13, 2014 8:29am EDT

Tourists walk at an empty beach at the coast of the Red Sea of El-Gouna in Hurghada, about 464 km (288 miles) from the capital Cairo, September 11, 2013.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Tourists walk at an empty beach at the coast of the Red Sea of El-Gouna in Hurghada, about 464 km (288 miles) from the capital Cairo, September 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) - The number of tourists visiting Egypt fell 32.4 percent in March compared with the same month last year, state media said on Tuesday, as a vital source of foreign currency continues to dry up after years of political turmoil.

Around 755,000 tourists visited Egypt in March, state-news agency MENA quoted official statistics agency CAPMAS as saying, compared with more than a million in March 2013.

The tourism sector, a major source of foreign currency for Egypt, has been hammered since the popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. It suffered another blow in February when a coach carrying Korean tourists was bombed by Islamist extremists.

Egypt's revenue from tourism tumbled 41 percent last year to $5.9 billion. Hundreds were killed in the violence that followed the army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July.

The tourism ministry this month launched a three-year marketing campaign in the hope of attracting tourists and investors to the country.

(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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