Signs of rebound in Egypt’s tourism sector: Oxford Business Group

Egypt’s tourism sector has shown signs that it is expecting a recovery by 2015, according to an Oxford Business Group report on Saturday.

"With Egypt’s recent period of relative calm following the May election of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, countries are starting to lift travel advisories and the government is trying to lure tourists through a number of initiatives," the report said .

The number of tourists arriving in Egypt increased 15.8 percent in July compared with the same month a year ago, according to recent figures from the Ministry of Tourim.

Hotel occupancy reached 67.9 percent in August, an increase of 85.5 percent, with revenue per available room (RevPAR) rising 125 percent to LE382.87 (US$53.5) according to the latest data from London-based consultancy and research firm STR Global.

The high percentage increases are indicative of the depths to which occupancy and revPAR had plunged.

“Egypt reported strong performance for the second consecutive month, due in part to low performing comparables in 2013 when the country experienced an outbreak of violence,” said Elizabeth Winkle, managing director of STR Global, in a statement at the release of the latest data. “The question remains whether this uptick is the beginning of a turnaround.”

While the rebound is welcome news to the battered tourism sector, the number of visitors remains far behind pre-2011 revolution levels. In July 2010, more than 1.3 million tourists visited the country, significantly higher than the 885,765 visitors recorded during the same month in 2014.

Moreover, in fiscal year 2013/14 tourist arrivals totalled 7.9 million, down 42 percent from the 2009/10 figures.

Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou recently predicted a full recovery by the end of 2015 – assuming the current level of stability is maintained – with the aim of attracting more than 25 million tourists by 2020, he told Reuters.

Zaazou’s upbeat outlook is partly due to a number of government programs that are expected to bolster the sector and a depreciating pound which makes it an affordable destination for European travellers in particular.

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