| DUBAI, April 29
DUBAI, April 29 Egypt's tourism minister expects
the number of tourists to rebound this year to pre-revolution
levels of 14.5 million after slumping in 2011 following an
uprising that forced out President Hosni Mubarak and brought
much of Egypt's economy to a halt.
There were already signs of improvement with tourist
arrivals rising 40 percent in the first four months o f this year
from a year earlier, Mounir Fakhry AbdelNour said.
Tourism used to account for more than a tenth of Egypt's
gross domestic product (GDP) before the uprising, and it employs
an estimated one in eight workers in a country where anger over
high unemployment triggered the uprisings.
"My aim for this year is to see the number of tourists to
Egypt this year rise to 2010 levels," AbdelNour told reporters
during a press conference during a visit to Dubai.
"The growth in tourism numbers this year will be driven by
new products we are offering like the reopening of the Nile
cruise from Cairo to Aswan ... I think during May and June we
will be weak due to the presidential elections but later will
(see a) rise."
Presidential elections are due to finally take place next
month, more than a year after Mubarak's departure.
In 2010, around 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt
generating around $12.5 billion, but their numbers slumped to
9.8 million visitors in 2011 generating $8.8 billion, said
"Given that prices of room rates have dropped since the time
of the uprising we expect that revenues this year will be lower
compared to 2010," he said without giving further details.
Average spending per tourist fell to $72 a day last year, from
around $85 a day in 2010, he said.
One bright spot for Egypt has been healthy numbers of
Russian and Eastern European tourists, who have not been
deterred by instability in the region.
Asked if the growing influence of Islamists in government
would affect tourism, and lead to rules that would ban alcohol
sales and outlaw mixed bathing and bikinis in popular resorts,
AbdelNour was optimistic that the industry would not be
"I don't think that any political leader with any ideology
would take action against that would harm this industry's
growth," he said.
(Editing by Susan Fenton)