Barring any knock-on effects from the security situation in the region, it looks as if the year 2000 will mark the first time that the number of tourists visiting Egypt passes the 5 million mark, reported Al-Ahram. In 1999, 4.8 million tourists visited Egypt.
During the first three quarters of the year, 4.14 million tourists entered, and because the high season traditionally starts in October, the Egyptian tourism ministry is predicting that the 5 million mark will be passed. In September, 454,768 tourist arrivals were recorded, 10.4 percent increase more than in September 1999. Hotel occupancy rates were three percentage points up to 72 percent.
With 579,439 arrivals recorded, Italians made up largest national group visiting Egypt during the first three quarters of 2000. They were followed by tourists from Germany, with 559,557 arrivals; from Israel, with 304,412 arrivals; from France, with 282,963 arrivals; from Great Britain, with 270,702 arrivals; from Saudi Arabia, with 206,288 arrivals; from the Benelux countries, with 178,984 arrivals; from the United States, with 175,092 arrivals; from Palestine, with 133,703 arrivals and Russia and other CIS countries, with 117,924 arrivals.
The most popular destination for the tourists, as measured by hotel occupancy rates, was the Red Sea coast, followed by Cairo, South Sinai, Giza, Luxor, Aswan and Alexandria.
But there are a number of factors that could put a dent in the Egyptian tourism sectors sterling performance. The one is the ongoing violence in the Palestinian territories to Egypt’s north. For while it is likely to be contained outside of Egypt, the daily reports on television could frighten tourists from Europe and North America, who are inclined to view the unrest as being indicative as what happening in the Middle East in general. Furthermore, a large number of the visitors to the Red Sea resorts are Israelis, who as a result of the situation may choose to stay at home.
Then there is the fact that most Egyptian tourism enterprises quote prices in U.S. dollars, and this has impacted hard on European visitors who have seen the value of the euro slip against that of the U.S. dollar. Thus, say analysts, although Europe is Egypt’s main source of tourists and more Europeans visited Egypt than during the same month last year, the number of tourist nights by this group was 13.35 percent lower than in September 1999. The Ministry of Tourism would like to see prices also quoted in euro and other European currencies. — (Albawaba-MEBG)