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Tourism figures lower in May than April, but up from same time last year

Tourism was up 16.5 percent year-on-year in May, with Egypt receiving 894,600 foreign visitors during the month, compared to 867,200 in the same month a year before.

May figures were lower than April, however, when 923,900 foreign visitor arrived to the country.

The year-on-year increase came despite external factors like the rise of the Egyptian pound compared to currencies like the euro and the Russian ruble.

Prior to the 2011 Revolution, the tourist industry made up 11.3 percent of Egypt’s GDP and 19.3 percent of Egypt’s foreign currency reserves, according to official figures. Other figures put the industry’s total contribution to GDP, including indirect employment, as high as 19 percent in the years before the revolution.

Tourism plunged after the January 25 revolution, as foreign visitors were frightened away by political instability and street violence. The industry began making a fragile recovery before the 2013 overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi, when a wave of political violence scared off tourists once more.

Over the last year, the industry has been making a bumpy recovery, with visitor numbers rising and falling along with politics in Egypt and external factors, such as the collapse of the Russian ruble in the fall of 2014.

More recently, a spate of violence targeting the tourist industry in Egypt and nearby countries has prompted fears that foreign visitors may once again avoid holidays in the Middle East.

On June 10, a thwarted plan to bomb tourists at Luxor’s Karnak temple left two of the assailants dead and five other people injured, including a third attacker. No tourists were harmed in the attack, but it still prompted fears that the news could push down summer visitor numbers. An earlier attack at the Giza pyramids had killed two policemen.

Later in June, a gunman killed 38 people at a seaside resort in Tunisia, most of them European tourists.