ASWAN, Egypt — Egypt's once lucrative tourism industry has started to recover after an uprising in January nearly paralysed it, but the number of visitors this year will still fall 25%, the tourism minister said on Tuesday.
"Egypt has managed to bring back tourism after the events in January," Munir Fakhry Abdel Nur told AFP on the sidelines of the World Tourism Day ceremony, held this year in the historic southern Egyptian city of Aswan.
"We expect the number of tourists to reach 11 million by the end of the year with revenues of up to $10 billion, which would bring us up to 75 percent of tourist arrivals compared to last year," he said.
Tourism has made a come-back in the large Red Sea resorts, such as Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, but it is slower in Cairo and in the heritage sites of Luxor and Aswan, authorities say.
Official figures show the magnitude of the problem: tourism was off 45.7 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier and 35.4 percent in the second quarter.
July figures show a decrease in tourist arrivals of 28 percent from the year-earlier month.
The tourism industry supports 10 percent of the active population.
Perched on the banks of the Nile, Aswan, the site of the ancient city of Syene, boasts some of the country's top ancient Egyptian treasures.
A popular winter resort, Aswan has seen a major slump in tourist arrivals since the January 25 revolution that toppled the regime of president Hosni Mubarak.
The industry was virtually paralysed after footage of 18 days of deadly protests was broadcast around the world.
"Traditionally the volume of tourism is split around 80 percent on the Red Sea coast and 20 percent in the Nile valley for the archaeology there," Abdel Nur said.
"But in this period, tourists have avoided the valley because the political activity is centred in the capital and in the large cities, so people have preferred to head to the beaches, which are relatively far away," he said.
Egypt has launched a massive promotional campaign to entice visitors.
The country "is totally secure" and "does not present any danger to visitors," the minister said.
Abdel Nur also wants to reach out to visitors from emerging markets like China, India, Brazil and Argentina.
"We want to get off the beaten track. We must look at new economic forces, which have become important markets," he said.
The plan is also to "diversify the offer." Abdel Nur wants to go beyond the country's beaches and heritage sites, marketing ecology and therapy tourism.
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