Hope for Egypt’s Declining Tourism Industry?

What should be an industry booming from its rich historical sites and culture is now a place where you can find yourself alone inside the tomb of one of Egypt’s greatest rulers. So why has Egypt become a place where only the most unwavering travellers are willing to visit? Many reasons have affected this, the crashes of Metrojet 7k9268 and EgyptAir flight 804, terrorism threats, and political unrest.  

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Since these incidents have caused many countries to warn their citizens sternly against travelling to Egypt , the country is seeing a decrease in its international travel. Although the threats are still rated “high” by the Foreign Office, efforts to enhance the safety of tourists and the industry are being put into effect.

Since 2011, Egypt has seen the threat of revolution, a military coup that ended the rule of Hosni Mubarak and overthrew Mohamed Morsi, the crashes of two airliners, and several terrorist attacks.

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Tourism makes up 11.4 percent of the country’s GDP, and with these incidents crippling many tourists’ confidence in visiting major historical sites and cities, there is little income flowing from one of Egypt’s main sources of wealth. With the lack of tourists, funding for museums and other sites has declined. With the decrease in activity and increase in price for many attractions, even fewer tourists are willing to pay. In 2015, Egypt lost over a billion dollars in revenue after the industry declined by 15 percent.

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Throughout 2016, tourism rates decreased by 40 percent, making everyday life for working Egyptians more expensive. The industry makes up a large portion of Egyptian economy, and with it becoming only a fraction of what it used to be, the economy is worsening more and more each day.

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This economic decline has caused many people to have to close up their shops and restaurants because prices keep skyrocketing, and has even subsidized goods like sugar and rice. The country may have to devalue its currency for a second time this year, all while a loan was approved for 12 billion dollars from the IMF to help pull Egypt out of economic crisis.

Less funding for historical attractions means less safety and security for those visiting them. In June of 2016, the Karnak temple hosting the statues of Ramses IV and Queen Nefertari was attacked by a suicide bomber.

Statues of Ramses II as Osiris in Karnak Temple, Luxor (Thebes) Egypt.
Statues of Ramses II as Osiris in Karnak Temple, Luxor (Thebes) Egypt.

Incidents like this bring more fear for international visitors, as well as poor road conditions and the turmoil brewing in North Sinai. These problems are concerning, and many foreign countries have advised their citizens to be wary of travelling to Egypt. The UK and Russia have banned all direct air flights and several Western countries, including the United States, have placed travel bans and advisories.

There still could be a silver lining, however. Egypt’s tourism minister, Yehia Rashed, has created a “Six-Point Plan” to renew the crippled economy. This new plan aims to work with international tourism organizations, enhance the infrastructure, advance service and product levels to meet international standards, attract foreign investors, and develop eco-friendly commodities. Rashed has stated that these goals are “ambitious” but he believes that in order for the tourism industry to rise again, ambition is a good thing. This new plan will help initiate a focus on the most important factors in reinvigorating Egypt’s most affluent source.

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