Year-end totals are in for the number of 2011 visitors for the Egyptian capital and its top seaside resort Sharm el-Sheikh. Not surprisingly, hotels were largely empty as protests in the streets surged.
CAIRO - While Tahrir Square witnessed unprecedented Arab spring crowds, tourism to the Egyptian capital took a major hit in the historical year of 2011. The situation wasn't much sunnier for the travel sector in Egypt's top resort destination, Sharm el-Sheikh.
According to Osama al-Ashry, head of the hotels sector at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, hotel occupancy in Cairo plunged this past year to 40%, a 25% decrease from the year before. The rate in Sharm el-Sheikh went down to 58%, a drop of 20% from 2010.
Ashry told Al-Masry Al-Youm the falling rates were expected given the current security situation. "It is a harsh decline, but we still have confidence in Egypt's tourist destinations," he said.
Nagui Erian, a member of the Egyptian Hotels Association, said some countries such as the UK, France and Japan were wary of the establishment of a religious police service, which a number of Islamist acivists called for on Facebook in late December. "Travel agents from these countries have been asking if Egypt is turning into another Iran, but we have been assuring them that the suggestions were just conversations on social networks and no official action was taken," he said.
Read the original article in Al-Masry Al-Youm
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