Egypt tourism losses in FY 2015/2016 the worst in 15 years - finance minister

Thursday 04-08-2016 05:41 PM

Egypt's tourist resort Sharm el-Sheikh devoid of tourists following the Russian plane crash - Reuters

CAIRO, Aug 4 (Aswat Masriya) – Egypt's finance minister expects tourism revenues in FY 2015/ 2016 to reach $4 - $4.5 billion, with losses in its last 10 months being "the worst in 15 years." 

In a press conference on Thursday, Minister of Finance Amr al-Garhy said that tourism revenues in the fiscal year that ended in June would not exceed $5 billion compared to $6.1 billion in 2015.

According to the official statistics agency, Egypt lost over half of its tourists in May compared to the previous year. Approximately 431,800 tourists visited Egypt in May compared to 894,600 in May 2015.

Russian tourism decreased by 61.3 per cent in May, which was likely part of the consequences of the 2015 Russian plane crash that occurred above Egypt's Sinai.

Last 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.

The crash has been suspected to be due to a "terrorist attack," but Egypt says that evidence is still lacking as to the cause of the crash.

Moscow suspended all flights to Egypt pending an investigation into the crash. The U.K. followed suit, halting all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh.

Since the plane crash, Russia among other western countries have sent delegations to inspect security measures in Egyptian airports, which Egyptian officials continued to describe as in line with "international standards."

In early July, the Russian Ambassador to Egypt Sergei Kirpichenko was reported to have said that Russian tourists would be able to travel to Egypt in "the foreseeable future".

Moody's Investors Services also reported last month that tourism revenues fell in the first quarter of 2016 to record its lowest level since 1998.

According to the Moody's report published on Jul. 6, tourism revenues fell to $551 million in the first quarter of 2016, the lowest since March 1998 and much lower than the third-quarter 2010 peak of $3.6 billion.

In an attempt to promote internal tourism, EgyptAir launched "Your Vacation in Egypt" campaign in July that includes package deals and competitive prices for domestic flights.  

Egypt has been scrambling to collect money as it faces a shortage in foreign currency due to pressures on its foreign reserves after years of political turmoil, triggered by the 2011 Uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, halved the country’s foreign reserves and scared away tourists and investors. 

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