After waves of violence and political turbulence have sent the tourism sector into a several-month slide, a recent extension of the state of emergency has been expected to further exacerbate the situation, but officials disagree.
“The imposed curfew is assisting in regaining the state of security in Egypt,” Hatem Mounir, the general secretary of tourism buildings in the Red Sea, said.
Mounir said that the Foreign ministry and the Ministry of Tourism have been making huge efforts to encourage tourism.
“A security expert from France just visited Egypt and confirmed that the situation in Luxor, Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh was totally safe,” Mounir added.
In their latest attempts to rebuild the touristic reputation of Egypt, the Egyptian embassy in Berlin held a meeting with 74 executives of tourism companies and German diplomats.
Mohamed Hegazy, the Egyptian ambassador in Germany, stated that he is looking forward to seeing Germany’s support and cooperation with Egypt in achieving a successful tourism season. He said that in support of Egyptian tourism, Germany would be showcasing support for democracy in this transitional phase.
Hegazy added that tourism destinations such as Luxor and Aswan, along with several cities overlooking the Red Sea, are completely safe and secure.
Hesham Aly, Chairman of the Touristic Investors Association in South Sinai, said that the region of Sinai was not experiencing violence and that the area is ready to receive new tourists.
After a state of emergency was declared and a curfew announced, several European countries issued negative travel advice. News reports circulated that Thomas Cook, along with other travel agencies, have decided to cut their flights to Egypt.
On 22 August, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou appeared in a YouTube video reaching out to the travel industry abroad to help assist governments in improving Egypt’s tourism in the coming period.
“The violence that you may have seen in your television screens, I assure you that level of violence is dwindling down very fast. The security and safety is now currently even better by the day, by the hour,” Zaazou said.
Badr Abdelatty, the spokesman for the foreign ministry, said that tourist destinations are completely safe, and added that “there is neither a curfew nor a state of emergency in the Red Sea regions.”
Abdelatty said that despite the ongoing demonstrations, the security situation in Cairo and Suez governorates is fine. He added that the decrease in curfew hours is a reflection of this.
“We are pushing [foreign countries] to decrease the [negative] travel advising,” Abdelatty added.
In their meeting last Tuesday with the Japanese Ambassador Toshiro Suzuki, Egypt’s Ministers of Tourism and Civil Aviation and Antiquities have called on the Japanese government to reconsider a travel ban placed on Egypt.
“The extension of the curfew may put some restraints on tourism; however, this is a necessary precaution to maintain the country’s national security,” Moataz El-Sayed, the president of the Egyptian General Tourist Guides Syndicate, said.
The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) announced earlier this month that the number of international tourist arrivals to Egypt in July decreased 24.5% year on year, totaling 765,000, compared to the one million arriving in July 2012.
The report also showed that the total number of nights spent by tourists in Egypt decreased 40.1% year on year last July, totaling 6.8 million, compared to 11.4 million in 2012.