Egypt: Tourism languishes amid fears of unrest, instability

A stray dog and a solitary man -- but no tourists -- near the Great Pyramid of Giza, right, and the Bent Pyramid of Dahshur, left, south of Cairo.
(Amr Nabil / Associated Press)

Egypt has gotten more bad news on the tourism front, announcing a decline of nearly one-third in the number of foreign visitors in the month of March from the year before.

The tourist industry, which makes up 11% of Egypt’s gross domestic product, has been struggling to get back to anything approaching the revenues generated prior to the 2011 uprising against dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The latest government figures indicate that 755,000 tourists visited Egypt in March, with most coming from other Arab states or Eastern Europe. Egypt has also been wooing tourists from India and elsewhere as traditional European markets have weakened.


A bus bombing in February by an Islamist group in the Sinai peninsula town of Taba left four people dead, including three South Korean tourists. That prompted travel warnings from countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Switzerland.

The Tourism Ministry’s financial advisor, Adela Ragab, predicted that the outlook would improve in the wake of presidential elections set for May 26-27. Former Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Sisi is widely expected to win and has said that promoting stability and security would be among his top priorities.

Hassan is a special correspondent.