Egypt: Anticipated Arrivals Drop 55%

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BERLIN -- Egypt lost 55% of its anticipated tourist arrivals in December and January, following the massacre of 58 tourists in Luxor last November, Mamdouh El-Beltagui, Egypt's minister of tourism, said at the ITB trade show here.

It was the largest percentage drop confirmed by Egyptian officials since the attack by Islamic militants at the Temple of Hatshepsut.

El-Beltagui did not reveal the number of arrivals. He said the arrivals of German tourists declined 70% during December and January. More than a dozen Germans were killed during the Luxor massacre, and more died in an attack outside a Cairo museum last September.

Although several prominent operators canceled their programs, El-Beltagui said the U.S. market was the least affected after the Luxor massacre, with a 24% decline in December and a 17% drop in January.

Russian arrivals increased 14.5% in December and January, he added.

Since the Luxor attack, Egypt has implemented tighter security measures to safeguard tourist sites, El-Beltagui told delegates. Most European countries, however, have not lifted travel advisories posted after the Luxor massacre.

In mid-February, the U.S. State Department rescinded its public notices cautioning against travel to upper Egypt.

El-Beltagui cited some of the new measures:

  • An anti-terrorist intelligence service was upgraded.
  • Rings of security were added near tourist sites.
  • Communication was enhanced between the security's central management and local checkpoints.
  • Security forces were given more weapons.
  • Education requirements were raised for, and advanced training given to, security employees.
  • Hotels implemented restricted access.
  • The government moved 280 employees into security-support positions.
  • Tourism brought the equivalent of $3.8 million of foreign currency into Egypt last year, more than any other commercial enterprise there.

    Plans still are on track to increase the country's lodging capacity from 75,000 to 150,000 rooms within three to five years, according to El-Beltagui.

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