Egypt’s tourism sector: poised for success after decade of fluctuations

Nehal Samir
5 Min Read

Egypt’s tourism sector revenues recorded $12bn in 2018, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) latest report.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s tourism sector revenues hiked by 28.2% during last Fiscal Year (FY), recording $12.570bn, compared to only $9.804bn in FY 2017-2018, according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) balance of payment.

The tourism sector in Egypt has been full of ups and downs since the 2011 Revolution. It suffered a devastating blow, especially when a Russian passenger plane crashed in Sinai with no survivors in late October 2015.

Following the plane crash, Russia imposed a travel ban on Egypt, while the UK suspended all flights to Sharm El-Sheikh amid concerns over the airport’s security measures, banning travel to Sinai.

In January 2018, the Russian government gave permission for flights to resume to Egypt after a two-year hiatus, and Russian flights returned to Cairo in April 2018. On the other hand, the UK is still imposing travel bans Sinai, and hence tourism to Sharm El-Sheikh is very limited.

However, although Russian tourists have not returned to Egypt until now, Egyptian tourism has recovered some of its revenues since 2018, attempting to reach 2010’s numbers.

Daily News Egypt dug into the phases of the recovery of tourism in the following numbers in terms of both tourism revenues and the number of tourists.

In 2010, which was the peak for tourism revenues in Egypt, the sector achieved revenues of $12.5bn, with 14.7 million tourists.

In 2011, the number of tourists to Egypt fell to 9.8 million tourists, dropping revenues to $8.7bn.

Furthermore, in 2012 a slight increase was witnessed in the revenues reaching $9.9bn, with a total number of 11.5 million tourists to Egypt.

In 2013, Egypt’s tourism sector achieved revenues worth $5.9bn, bringing 9.5 million tourists, according to the governmental figures.

In 2014, a hike was witnessed in revenues achieving $7.5bn, with a total number of 9.9million tourists.

A slight decrease was witnessed in revenues in 2015, recording $6.1bn, with a total of 9.3 million tourists.

In 2016, a great decline was witnessed in both the number of tourists and tourism revenues due to the travel ban, in which the number of tourists dropped to 5.3 million, with total revenues worth $3.4bn.

In 2017 a recovery began to start, in which Egypt’s tourism revenues recorded $7.6bn, with a total of 8.3 million tourists.

The recovery continued in 2018 and 2019 as mentioned before, and experts expect more.

Yasser Sultan, Partner of Egyptian Valley company and Member of the General Assembly of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association (ETTA), told Daily News Egypt that he expects Egypt’s tourism sector to achieve at least $15bn by end of the current FY.

“Egypt enjoys all the types of touristic products, in addition to its amazing position, which together should allow the tourism sector to achieve revenues exceeding $20bn,”  he further explained.

Late September, British Tourism company Thomas Cook officially announced that it collapsed after failing to secure its necessary funding, which raised concerns over how this collapse may affect   tourism.

Commenting on that, Hesham El Damery, former president of the Tourism Promotion Board Authority told Daily News Egypt that the market will witness a shake until another great company like Thomas Cook absorbs the number of travellers.

Agreeing with El-Damery, CEO of Jaz Hotel Group Alaa Akel explained that the hotels that were highly dependent on Thomas Cook’s travellers will decrease their prices, to compensate their loss, stating that following this decrease, more travellers will come to Egypt.

“But if  Russian tourism returns to Egypt this coming winter season, a shortage there will be a shortage in hotel rooms. Hotels will need to increase their prices which will affect the Egyptian economy positively,” he asserted.

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