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Tourists keep flocking to Egypt as conflict rumbles on

Tourists stop for a breather at a cafe in Cairo's Khan el Khalili souq. About 14.9m people visited Egypt in 2023 Alamy via Reuters Connect
Tourists pause for a breather at a cafe in Cairo's Khan el Khalili souq. About 14.9m people visited Egypt in 2023
  • January to April numbers up 27%
  • Arab travellers driving increase
  • Egypt wants 30m visitors a year in 2030

Egypt’s visitor numbers rose 27 percent in the first four months of 2024, according to its vice minister of tourism and antiquities.

The tourism ministry aims to increase inbound visitors by 25-30 percent this year, as it chases a target of 30 million visitors a year by 2030.

Tourists from Arab countries accounted for the bulk of the increase in the first four months of 2024, said vice minister Ghada Shalaby. The number of Arab visitors from January to April was up 54 percent on the same period in 2023.

In February the ministry said inbound tourism had continued to increase despite the Israel Hamas war.

Last year 14.9 million tourists travelled to Egypt. This surpassed the previous record of 14.7 million, set in 2010, but just missed the ministry’s 2023 target of 15 million visitors.

Annual tourism revenues increased 8 percent to $13.2 billion. Tourists stayed for an average of 9.5 nights per person in 2023 and spent about $93 a day.

As part of its strategy to attract tourists, Egypt has signed deals with budget airlines such as Wizz and Air Cairo to expand their operations. The UK-based carrier EasyJet also began operating to Cairo last August.

The government has rolled out initiatives including a tourist visa valid for five years and is allowing more nations’ passport holders to obtain their visas on arrival in Egypt.

Officials are also encouraging multinational hotel operators to increase their capacity. Last month tourism minister Ahmed Issa told reporters that 4,012 hotel rooms had been added in the first quarter of 2024, bringing Egypt’s total to 222,716.

Mohamed Kaoud, a hospitality consultant at Colliers International, said he believed the government is on track to meet its 2030 target. He pointed to high growth in tourists visiting the north coast, Hurghada and Cairo, as well as people travelling to visiting Egypt on business. 

The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that the industry accounted for more than 8 percent of Egypt’s GDP in 2023 and provided about 2.5 million jobs.

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