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Suez Canal revenues and traffic fell in May

A cargo ship passes through the Suez Canal Alamy via Reuters
A cargo ship passes through the Suez Canal
  • Revenues down 64% from 2023
  • Number of ships falls by 54%
  • Saudi ports report fall in traffic

Suez Canal revenues continued to decline in May because of instability in the Red Sea, according to Egyptian media.

Revenues fell 64.3 percent year on year to $337.8 million. Last month 1,111 individual ships passed through the canal – down 54 percent on the May 2023 figure of 2,396. 

Finance minister Mohamed Maait said last month that revenues could fall by up to 60 percent as a result of the disturbances to global shipping.

During the first four months of the year, Red Sea shipping fell by almost half compared to the same period last year.

In May, the average number of ships that passed through the Suez Canal per day was 22, compared to 24 in April and 51 in May 2023.

Yemen’s Ansar Allah group, widely referred to as Houthis, began attacking ships in the Red Sea last November, saying their actions were a response to the conflict in Gaza.

The impact of their attacks has been felt across the region. The Saudi Ports Authority reported on Sunday that maritime traffic fell to 986 ships in May, an 8 percent year-on-year decrease.

The kingdom reported a 10 percent year-on-year decrease in handled containers to 647,839 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The number of passengers fell by around a third.

Instability across the region has also pushed the Egyptian government to revise down its tourism targets for 2024 from 18 million to between 15.5 million and 16.5 million tourists.

A record 14.9 million tourists visited Egypt last year, just shy of its 15 million target. In the first four months of 2024, 5 million tourists entered Egypt, the second-highest figure on record for that period.

Tourism minister Ahmed Issa told Sky News Arabia last month that the sector is “growing at an unprecedented rate” despite the war in Gaza. His ministry is pursuing a large-scale investment programme to improve tourism infrastructure, he said. 

Issa expects 25,000 new hotel rooms to open across the country in the next 12 months. The total number of rooms is forecast to more than double by 2028, from 200,000 at present to 420,000.

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