CAPMAS: Tourist arrivals decrease by over 50% in 2016
Courtesy: Laura Cugusi

Tourist arrivals to Egypt in the first half of 2016 have declined by 51.2 percent in a comparison with last year’s figures, according to a report published on Monday by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

In the first half of 2015, 4.8 million tourists arrived in Egypt, while, in the same time period in 2016, arrivals have fallen to 2.3 million.

The fall in Russian tourist arrivals in particular – which have declined by 54.9 percent – has been the largest contributor to the general downturn. Arrivals from the United Kingdom also dropped by 14.9 percent. Both countries banned national airline travel to Egypt following the downing of a Russian jet over Sinai in October 2015.

In addition to a decline in arrivals, tourists are also spending fewer nights in Egypt, with CAPMAS reporting that the nights spent in the country fell from 49.5 million to 13.5 million, a decline of 70.5 percent.

The sharp downward trend in Egypt’s tourism sector began with the ouster of former President Hosni Mubark. Over 14 million tourists visited the country in 2010, according to data from the World Bank. However, that number fell to just under 9.5 million in 2011. Tourism figures increased slightly to just under 11.2 million in 2012.

In 2014, Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou stated Egypt had received 9.9 million tourists, up from 9.5 million in 2013. While predictions in 2014 forecasted growth in the coming years, the attack on a convoy of Mexican tourists in the western desert in September 2015 and the downing of the Metrojet plane in October greatly harmed the tourism sector. There were record-high levels of tourism across the world in 2015, but Egypt suffered a decline.

Although investigations are still ongoing, Islamic State affiliate Province of Sinai claimed responsibility for the downed plane. While Egyptian authorities initially denied the possibility of deliberate sabotage or a targeted explosion, they eventually conceded to the possibility.

Between the Metrojet passenger jet crash and January 2016, tourism arrivals to Egypt declined by more than 60 percent, dropping from 909,400 to 363,500. During this period, CAPMAS reported a 99 percent decline in the number of nights Russian tourists spent in Egypt. When comparing January 2015 and 2016, the year on year decline was 46 percent. Russia cancelled all flights to Egypt following the incident. Talks are currently to resume flights by October. Turkey had also cancelled flights to Sharm el-Sheikh shortly after the incident. Although, flights were resumed earlier in September.