Fewer Arab tourists come to Egypt


The number of Arab tourists who visited Egypt in the first half of 2011 dropped by 15.3 percent compared to the previous year, a tourism official said Monday.

Samy Mahmoud, head of the International Tourism Sector at the Egypt Tourism Authority, said that despite the drop in the first half of the year, the length of stay per tourist has increased in June.

Longer stays for Arab tourists may be attributed to Libyans fleeing to Egypt after the breakout of the Libyan rebellion. Many have settled in Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh.

The length of stay for Iraqis, Palestinians, Qataris, Algerians and Moroccans also increased compared to the same period last year.

Mahmoud said the Egypt Tourism Authority is currently cooperating with bodies such as the Tourism Ministry to attract Arab tourists.

He said that the Tahrir Square sit-in and last week’s violence in Arish might hamper these efforts.

Mahmoud also warned of repercussions of the use of religious slogans in protests, referring to rallies dominated by Islamists on 29 July.

He said such rallies send a message to other countries that Egypt may transform into an undemocratic state, which will eventually affect the flow of investments.

Mahmoud called on the Interior Ministry to restore stability in Tahrir and elsewhere in Egypt, saying that a good income could be generated from tourism this winter if security is restored.