Egypt’s tourism revenues jumped by 38.7% during the first half (H1) of the current fiscal year (FY), reaching $6.8bn, compared to $4.9 in the period from July to December 2017, according to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
The CBE explained in its initial report on the Egyptian balance of payments that the travel surplus rose to about $5.4bn during H1 of the current FY, up from $3.8bn in the same period last FY.
According to data released by the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) last month, tourism in Egypt has witnessed a huge boom and recovery during 2018, estimating the value of tourists’ spending in Egypt last year at $12.2bn.
The WTTC predicted that the number of tourists coming to Egypt during 2019 will reach 11.7 million tourists.
Notably, the tourism industry in Egypt has been full of ups and downs since the 25 January Revolution.
The sector in Egypt suffered a devastating blow, especially when a Russian passenger plane crashed in Sinai in late October 2015, and all its passengers were killed.
Following the plane crash, Russia imposed a travel ban on Egypt, while the UK suspended all flights to Sharm El-Sheikh amid concerns over the airport’s security measures, banning travel to Sinai.
In January 2018, the Russian government gave permission for flights to resume to Egypt after a two-year hiatus, and Russian flights returned to Cairo in April. On the other hand, the UK is still imposing bans on travel to Sinai, and hence tourism to Sharm El-Sheikh is very limited.
However, although Russian tourists have not returned to Egypt until now, Egyptian tourism has recovered some of its revenues since the past year.
Currently, tourism is recovering as in addition to the hike in the tourism revenues, previously, the Minister of Tourism, Rania-Al-Mashat, said that the number of tourists to Egypt increased by 40% during the first nine months of 2018 (9M18), compared to the same period last year.
Thus, Daily News Egypt decided to dig further into the reasons behind the hike in the revenues during the aforementioned period, clarifying the markets that compensated part of the absence of Russian tourists, in addition to revealing if new tourism markets entered Egypt during the same period.
For his part, Hesham El Damery, the retiring president of the Tourism Promotion Authority, told Daily News Egypt that Egypt is witnessing a contiguous increase in revenues since 2017, clarifying that the main reason behind this increase is the political and security situation stability witnessed in the country that helped in improving the stereotypical image of the state.
As the touristic map or the touristic base is an expression which means the nationalities that top the visitors to Egypt during the year 2018, El Damery stated that the hike in the revenues is due to increasing visitors from Germany, followed by the Arab market, then the Ukrainian market comes in the third palace followed by the Italian markets and then the British.
He continued that the increase is also due to having new diverse source markets including people from Eastern Europe, the Arab world, and Asia such as Indian, Japanese and Chinese markets.
El Damary explained that since 2015, Egypt began to attract non-traditional markets, including people from Ukraine and Poland.
He noted that before 2014, only four markets existed which are Russia, Germany, England, and Italy and they represented more than 75% of Egypt’s annual tourism revenues.
Noteworthy, before the 25 January Revolution, Russian tourists were ranked number one in the touristic map of Egypt, followed by British and German tourists.
El Damery saw in the travel ban an advantage. He explained that the average tourism spending in the last two years increased as the touristic base in Egypt changed, elaborating that the average spending of the Russian tourist is low, but now after the travel ban, Egypt witnessed visitors from US, the Gulf, and the Asian markets whose average spending is much higher than the Russian.
Agreeing with El Damery, Ali Ghoneim, member of the Egyptian Federation of Tourist Chambers, thinks that the main reason behind the rise in the revenues is the stability of the political and security situation in Egypt.
Also, he agreed with El Damery that the German market is ranked first in terms of the top visitors to Egypt in 2018.
Ghoneim stated that 2018 witnessed the entrance of new source markets in Egypt including India, China, and Latin America.
Finally, they both are optimistic about the growth of Egypt’s tourism revenues in the next period.