Egypt lost over half of its tourists in the first half of 2016 compared with the same period last year, the official statistics agency said on Monday.
Egypt welcomed 2.3 million tourists in the period from January to June 2016, compared to 4.8 million tourists in the same period last year, the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics said in a statement issued on the occasion of World Tourism Day, commemorated each year on September 27.
The agency mainly ascribed the decline, which totaled to 51.2 percent, to the decrease in number of Russian tourists by 54.9 percent and tourists from the UK by 14.9 percent.
In 2015, 37.7 percent of Egypt’s visitors came from Eastern Europe, with Russian tourists at 67.9 percent, while 35.1 percent came from Eastern Europe, with Germany holding the largest share at 31.2 percent.
In October, a charter flight operated by Russian airline Metrojet broke up midair 23 minutes after takeoff from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh Airport as it headed to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board.
Moscow suspended all flights to Egypt pending an investigation into the crash. The UK followed suit, halting all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh.
As tourist numbers plunged in 2016, the number of nights spent by tourists dropped to 13.5 million nights, compared to 45.9 million nights during the same period of 2015, marking a 70.5 percent decrease.
Egypt’s tourism industry, a vital source of foreign currency, has been hit hard since the plane crash. The country had already been struggling to recover from economic problems and a shortage of foreign currency reserves since the 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian government adopted an urgent plan to revive tourism, which aims to attract 10 million tourists into Egypt by the end of 2017.
Credit: All Africa