Egypt panics, struggles to save tourism sector
Egypt's tourism industry has been hit hard as travelers choose to avoid a country in the midst of political upheaval and Egyptians themselves choose to visit fewer destinations.
To recoup lost revenue streams, Egypt's Ministry of Tourism is taking steps to promote both domestic and international travel, according to Mahmoud Shukri of the Ministry's Tourism Promotion Office.
The government agency has partnered with Ministry of Civil Aviation affiliates including Egypt Air, Egypt Express and Smart Air to offer travel and holiday discounts after visitor rates dropped 80 percent year-on-year. One million people traveled to the country through to the end of August this year.
Hotel occupancy in Luxor stood at only five percent during August, and even the popular Red Sea fared little better with an average occupancy rate of 35 percent -- which is only 35,000 tourists in total.
Low visitor rates have forced many hotels to close their doors, and the dip in tourism directly impacts the state's economic health, especially in hard currency -- as European travelers account for 75 percent of Egypt's tourists.
The new schemes will offer short trips at rates not exceeding $144 per person, and Egypt has approached African countries, especially Zambia and Zimbabwe, and others such as Portugal, Brazil, Argentina and Japan to lure holidaymakers to its shores.
Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said that "the government alone cannot stimulate tourism," commenting:
"We reiterate to the world that all of our guests are safe and secure, and that the differences in Egypt are an internal issue and no matter how much we disagree, we will eventually find a solution."
Egypt has struggled financially since the civil uprising in 2011, as foreign businesses and tourists withdrew in the face of the country's instability.
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