DUBAI: Egypt’s tourism revenues fell to about $4 billion in 2020, down from $13 billion the previous year, amid the global pandemic that severely damaged the sector worldwide.

However, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani said that the country’s focus has shifted from visitor numbers to remaining a safe destination despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Al-Anani said: “We witnessed a great year in 2019 in terms of numbers and revenues, and also the first two months in 2020 were 8 percent higher in terms of numbers and revenues, with 2.4 million tourists visiting the country at that time.

“The goal now is not to measure the number of tourists, but to say that Egypt is a safe tourist destination even amid the coronavirus crisis.”

Egypt closed its hotels in March when the outbreak began, but reopened them after about two months with about 25 percent capacity and, later, 50 percent.

“We are working to build a tourist reputation and encourage tourists to visit after the crisis ends. The number of hotels that have obtained licenses to operate according to the new regulations after the pandemic is about 700 out of a total of 1,200,” Al-Anani said.

Egypt reopened its airports to international commercial flights at the beginning of July.

“The foreign tourism occupancy rates in our hotels currently average between 10 and 15 percent of the 2019 numbers,” the tourism minister said.

He said that the Egyptian Federation of Tourism Chambers is expected to sign a contract with a foreign company within a week to work out a tourism strategy that includes all destinations and markets. The plan is due to be completed by May.

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The largest number of tourists Egypt recorded was in 2010 — before the January 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak — when the country had 14.7 million visitors and revenues reached $12.5 billion.

Al-Anani said that Egypt will announce two archaeological discoveries during January, as well as a contract to operate a new museum due to open in the second half of 2021.



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