Minister: Egypt tourism coming back to life

'Hotel bookings now near 80% in Red Sea resorts'

MARSA ALAM (Egypt) - Egypt's Tourism Minister Munir Fakhry Abdel Nur Thursday expressed confidence in the nation's tourism sector, saying it is peaking to the levels of 2010 before the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
He said the number of tourists booking summer flights to Egypt this year were more than the reservations in the same period of 2010, the year when the sector performed at its best.
"The amount of flight reservations by tourism companies exceeds what it was in the summer of 2010, and that probably means that the number of tourists visiting Egypt this year may reach that in the peak year, almost 13 million," he said.
Hotel bookings now near 80 percent in the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurgada, he added, but still no more than 45 percent in Cairo.
Tourism, one of the main sources of Egypt's revenue and employment, was badly hit during and after the 18-day popular uprising that ousted former president Mubarak in February 2011.
However, the sector is recovering with the number of tourists rising 32 percent in the first quarter of 2012, officials said, as compared to same period last year.
A total of 2.5 million tourists arrived in Egypt between January and March this year, compared with 1.89 million a year earlier, the tourism authority said.
Despite the recovery from last year, the first-quarter figures were a sharp 27.8 percent lower than those registered in the same period of 2010.