Agence France-Presse

Minister: Egypt's tourist industry on rebound

An Egyptian demonstrator demanding the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak holds a placard asking tourists not to leave Egypt, on Cairo's Tahrir square on February 1, 2011.


Miguel Medina

Egypt's tourism minister, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, today said Egypt's struggling tourism industry is rebounding after being shaken by the political unrest last year, according to Reuters.

The minister said he expects the industry will return to the level it was at before mass protests lead to the overthrow of longtime Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak last February, said Reuters

The turmoil plunged the country into an economic crisis from which it is still recovering. 

The tourism sector, which until 2011 represented over a tenth of the nation's total revenue, is key to Egypt's future economic growth. Reuters said it provided jobs to an estimated one in eight Egyptian workers.

Nour said levels are already up 40 percent over the last several months when compared to a year ago, reported Reuters

Some 2.5 million tourists have visited Egypt between January and March, compared to 1.89 million a year ago, according to Middle East Online.

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Speaking ahead of today's opening of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Nour promised that Egypt's uncertain political future does not pose a threat to the sector, saying "[n]o person in charge, no matter what his beliefs, political motivations, or ideology will take actions that may hamper tourism or affect tourism -- especially if he works in a democratic climate,” 7 Days in Dubai quoted the minister as saying. 

Also today, Egyptian officials announced that the country's long-abandoned historic Baron Empain Palace, built by Belgian industrialist Baron-General Edouard Louis Joseph Empain in the early 20th century, will be restored and used as an international culture center that is hoped to attract even more foreign visitors, reported Ahram Online

The restoration will be a joint project between the Egyptian and Belgian governments, said Ahram Online

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