CAIRO // The number of Emirati tourists to Egypt increased by 15.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, following a steep decline in visitors to the country last year, figures from the Egyptian Tourist Authority show.
A total of 4,883 Emiratis visited Egypt in the first quarter compared with 4,232 tourists in the same months last year.
There was a 54.2 per cent drop in the number of Emiratis visiting Egypt last year to 24,661 from 53,815 the previous year, amid political unrest. Tourist numbers overall to Egypt grew by 32 per cent in the first quarter of this year.
"I knew from day one that the road would be bumpy, that tourism is linked very closely to the political situation of the country," said Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, who has been Egypt's minister of tourism since February last year.
"Egypt is open for business. I think it's a fantastic opportunity for tourists to enjoy Luxor, Aswan, and the Pyramids when it is relatively empty, to enjoy the beaches on the Red Sea or the Mediterranean when they are not extremely crowded."
Tourism levels had picked up sharply in the Red Sea resorts, Mr Nour said, but he added that Cairo's recovery was slower. Still, he said he hoped tourism to Egypt this year would return to its peak levels of 2010. Tourism in 2010 made up 11.3 per cent of Egypt's economy. A record of 14.7 million visited arrived that year. But last year, numbers declined 33 per cent to 9.8 million. The country has ambitious targets to host 30 million tourists by 2017.
Egypt has focused significant efforts on trying to bring tourists from the GCC back to the country, launching an advertising campaign last May targeted at Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE in particular.
"During the last period, the Egyptian Tourist Authority's strategy focused on the Arab markets including the UAE market," said Amr El Ezaby, the chairman of the Egyptian Tourist Authority.