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Tourism arrivals at highest level since November amid general decline: CAPMAS

The number of tourists visiting Egypt hit 529,200 in July 2016, the highest since a Russian plane carrying holidaymakers exploded over Sinai in October 2015, according to figures from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

The report also showed that tourists from Arab countries rose by 92.3 percent from 121,400 in June to 233,500 in July, although it noted this is to be expected in the summer months.

Compared to the same period last year, tourism has generally suffered following a series of events that have damaged the country’s reputation, including the killing of Mexican tourists in the Western Desert by the military in September last year, and the brutal death of Italian student Giulio Regeni in January.

Revenues from tourism have witnessed a huge slump, amounting to just US$550.5 million in the first quarter of 2016 — a drop of more than 62 percent compared to the same period in 2015, according to Central Bank figures.

The new figures show the pace of decline in tourist arrivals eased to 40 percent in July, compared to 60 percent in June. The number of Russian, British, and German tourists decreased by 60 per cent, 17.5 per cent, and 10 per cent respectively in July.

Tourists arriving from Arab countries rose by 28 percent, offsetting the annual decline in July by 5.6 percent. While the first seven months of 2016 saw Italian tourist arrivals consistently down by 70 percent.

Following a recent trip by a Russian delegation to discuss security arrangements, Russia has said it hopes to reinstate flights to Sharm el-Sheikh soon, but negotiations remain ongoing and so far no date has been set.

Ramy Oraby, an economist at Mubasher International, said he believes this to be the first real glimpse of hope for the Egyptian tourism industry, which represents more than 10 percent of the county’s GDP and is important for employment as well as foreign currency inflows.

Turkish Airlines also determined to resume flights to Sharm el-Sheikh on September 10. Meanwhile, a similar decision was made by small German airliner Germania starting October 31.

These figures come as reports emerged Tuesday morning of a hot air balloon crash that injured 22 tourists in the once-thriving tourist town of Luxor, which has seen some of the worst economic downturns since Egypt’s tourism industry first began to decline in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.