Egypt’s tourist spots have witnessed a lot of commotion over the past decade. From political uprisings, terrorist attacks, heinous bombings to Covid-19, the otherwise bustling tourist destination is now devoid of visitors as travellers globally have postponed their travelling plans until the virus loses its grip.
The crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 over Northern Sinai on October 15, 2015 had severely hit visitor arrivals at Egypt’s tourist spots. Tour operators, hoteliers and restaurateurs had least expected a bombing to halt the Russian Red Sea holiday trade. For those working in Egypt’s tourism sector, the pandemic has brought back memories of empty hotels, resorts & cruises. Only this time, the reality is even worse!
Although the Egyptian government extended some monetary help to those part of the travel industry, incomes of local vendors and tour guides who were reliant on international tourists are severely shook by the pandemic. While many complain of drastically reduced incomes, others believe that tourism industry cannot ensure a stable income in Egypt.
As the virus exposed Egypt’s healthcare system, those working in the travel sector realised the fragility of the government’s preparedness amidst the third wave of the virus. Consequently, many planned to forgo their careers in the tourism sector. Despite having the highest fatality rates amongst all Arab nations, Egypt’s plans of resuming international travel early are proving to be a decision took in haste as officials believe that the country will take a longer time to recover from losses.
Following expert advice, authorities curtailed all large gatherings and festivals. Also, travellers are mandated to submit a Covid-19 negative test performed within 72 hours of arrival. With reduced hotel capacity and almost no visitors to Egypt’s tourist spots, travel marketing agencies are barely surviving.
According to reliable sources, Egypt’s tourism revenues plunged to $4.4 billion in 2020 from $13 billion in 2019. This decline of 66 per cent has affected thousands of livelihoods in the country. While the existing Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat expects normalcy by 2022, former chair of chair of the General Union of Tourism Chambers, Ilhami El-Zayyat stated that complete recovery is more likely in 2024.
Egypt’s tourist spots have always borne the brunt of being associated with a country that is criticised for its poor human rights record. With the pandemic, the employees of tourism sector now face major challenges in earning their daily bread. Yet, support from government remains limited!