Published on : Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Egypt’s tourism sector is expecting a gradual recovery after revenues of the industry plunged by nearly 70% to $4 billion in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the tourism minister and some travel companies.
Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany said in a press statement that the number of tourists visiting Egypt sank to 3.5 million last year from 13.1 million in 2019 and foreign occupancy rates in Egyptian hotels dropped to just 10-15% of 2019 levels.
Tourism accounts for up to 15% of Egypt’s national output, and is a key source of foreign currency. Officials have been unveiling new archaeological discoveries in an effort to revive visitor numbers, and hope the delayed opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum next to the pyramids, expected later this year, is likely to help the sector recover.
Minister El-Enany mentioned that the present goal is not to count the number of tourists but to have it be said that Egypt is a safe tourist destination during the coronavirus pandemic. He shared that out of 1,200 hotels, 700 have licenses to operate under current health restrictions. Egypt is also planning to start COVID-19 vaccinations this month after approving China’s Sinopharm vaccine, but it was unclear how quickly the programme could be rolled out.
Mohamed Farouq, Chief Executive, Egypt Express Travel Agency said in a statement that with the vaccine, recovery will be incremental this year and even though the progress is slow the virus is totally controlled. On Sunday, Egypt’s central bank extended waivers on debt interest payments for tourist companies and other businesses until the end of June.