By Abd Al-Razaq Al-Shuwakhi
Adel Ragab, president of the National Accounts Division at the Ministry of Tourism stated that the number of American tourists in Egypt totaled 184,000 during 2012, representing a 2.5% decrease. The number of Israeli tourists meanwhile totaled 132,000 during the same period.
He added that travel warnings released by the U.S. State Department advising their citizens not to travel to Egypt have had a huge negative impact on the country’s tourism sector, foiling Egypt’s attempts to increase their share of the North American tourism market. Western European travelers, he added, also look to such travel warnings as a source of concern.
These warnings have come at a time when Israel’s government has warned its citizens of the existence of terrorist activity in both North and South Sinai.
He added that the number of Israeli tourists visiting Egypt last year totaled 132,000, adding that Israeli tourists are not known for spending large amounts of money during their trips, preferring instead to engage in mountain and desert safari style adventure outings.
Magdi Hanin, president of the Tourism Committee for the British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA), stated that American tourists are best known for frequenting cultural touristic destinations in Cairo, Aswan and Luxor, contributing heavily to the success or failure of Egypt’s floating hotel sector.
He stated that occupancy rates in Egypt’s floating hotel sector did not currently exceed 30%, with average cost of one night’s stay in a room reaching $40.
The country’s deteriorating security situation, he said, was the prime deterrent for tourists seeking to travel to Egypt, saying that Nile tourism attracts mostly European and Japanese tourists.
Hanin added that despite the fact that Egypt Air has recently launched direct flights to Cairo from the Japanese cities of Osaka and Tokyo, this had not helped to increase the amount of Japanese tourists entering into Egypt. The average occupancy rates for Egypt Air planes leaving Japan, he said, have not exceeded 50%.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Wael ElMaaddawy stated that Egypt Air flights running from Tokyo and Osaka have suffered $33m in losses over the last three months, a fact which has pushed the Ministry to consider canceling the flights.