Egypt targets 1m tourists a month and $8bn in revenue: Minister

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Cairo

Egypt is targeting tourism revenue of more than $8 billion as it aims to attract more than 8 million overseas visitors in 2021, driven by the anticipated return of Russian holidaymakers and a revival in summer travel as the industry begins to recover, the country’s tourism minister said.

The North African country hosted 1.8 million visitors mainly from eastern Europe between January to mid-May, earning nearly $2bn in revenue, Khaled El-Enany, Egypt’s minister of tourism and antiquities, told The National on Sunday.

In April, 525,000 tourists visited the country, representing about 60 per cent of April 2019 figures. “

I’m hoping that in the beginning of summer, with the return of the Russian, Arab and hopefully European markets, that we will reach our normal numbers at the nearest possible time,” he said in an interview during the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. “We are hoping to reach 1m visitors per month and we’re not that far off.”

Tourism is a key pillar in Egypt’s economy, accounting for about 12 per cent of gross domestic product on average, with approximately one in five workers employed in the industry.

Home to the Giza pyramids, the country also boasts various other attractions that include the upcoming Grand Egyptian Museum, new archaeological discoveries, and turquoise beaches. It recently made waves around the world with the Golden Parade of royal mummies.

The country is undertaking measures to ensure the safe return of tourists as the global industry looks to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Egypt hosted 3.6m travellers in 2020, down from 13m in 2019 due to the pandemic, according to the ministry. Since re-opening its borders in July 2020 until now, it attracted 3m visitors.

Russian tourists, Egypt’s top source market, are expected to return “very soon” with bookings already in place for June, he said.

Arrangements are under way between Russian and Egyptian government entities, tour operators, airlines and other businesses that will revive tourism traffic following agreements by the countries’ presidents to resume travel.—AN