Egypt’s tourism income increased last year to $7.5bn, a growth of 27% compared to the year before, according to Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou.
Tourists arriving to Egypt increased to 10 million last year, compared to 9.5 million tourists in 2013.
The number of nights spent by tourists in 2014, however, decreased to 94 million nights, compared to 97 million nights in 2013, according to Zaazou in a press conference held Sunday.
Zaazou said that tourism is considered one of the most important sources of income for Egypt, along with Suez Canal revenues and remittances from Egyptians living abroad.
Tourists arriving to Egypt decreased during the first half of last year by 33%, while in the second half it reached 54% due to increased political stability, according to Zaazou.
The first quarter of last year witnessed the bombing of a tourist bus near the Taba border with Israel that resulted in the killing of three individuals, leading to a decrease in tourist income by 43%.
“We seek to be present in new markets, especially in Latin America and East and South Asia, in order to encourage tourist arrivals and visits to archaeological sites that were the hardest hit during the past four years,” said Zaazou.
Tourism expenditure last year reached $81.3 per day, compared to $63.3 by the end of the year before, according to Tourism Minister’s economic adviser, Adela Ragab.
Ragab said that tourism expenditure will increase this year with an increase in flow.
Despite the collapse in value of the Russian rouble in the last year, there were still 3 million Russian tourists by the end of 2014.
Zaazou said the flow from Russia decreased by 50% during the last two months, adding that the ministry is working to face negative results from the decline in rouble’s value and to change marketing policies.
The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a marketing plan worth $40m over three years, according to Zaazou.
Regarding tourist investments, he said that revenues from tourist development increased to EGP 827m during last year, which reflects investors’ confidence in Egypt.
Several projects were proposed in Ain Sokhna, the Red Sea, and South Sinai, with investments exceeding EGP 1.5bn.
Zaazou added that the ministry is working to transfer to green energy in light of the country’s current energy crisis, and there are six projects that will be funded in Marsa Alam with investments worth EGP 20m.
Tourist investments in Marsa Alam account for roughly EGP 10bn, according to the Ministry of Tourism, including 15,000 hotel rooms.
“In 2014, Egypt’s tourism income was at very low rates and we blame the political instability in the country,” said an official in the Egyptian Tourism Federation.
The official, who requested anonymity, said that hotel occupancies in Egypt are at 225,000 rooms, of which 65% are in the Red Sea and South Sinai areas.
The ministry hopes to reach a tourist income of $10bn in 2015, according to the official. However, this depends on the security situation in the country.