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Egypt's tourist numbers collapsed in 2020, deputy tourism minister says

A camel guide waits for customers next to the pyramid of Khafre or "Chefren" at the Giza pyramids plateau in Giza, Egypt November 15, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is expected to have only 3 million tourists this year, a mere 23% of the numbers who visited in 2019, after the coronavirus pandemic all but shut the industry down from March, Deputy Tourism Minister Ghada Shalabi said on Thursday.

Egypt halted most international flights in mid-March before gradually restoring them from June. Tourism directly and indirectly accounted for as much as 15% of gross domestic product before the pandemic, analysts say.

The 13 million tourists who visited in 2019 were earning Egypt more than $1 billion a month, Shalabi said in an interview on Sky News, adding that a rebound to 2019 numbers was unlikely before 2022.

Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Patrick Werr; Editing by Alex Richardson

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