January 26, 2011 / 8:26 PM / 7 years ago

FACTBOX-Protests and Egypt's tourism industry

3 Min Read

CAIRO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Mass protests against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign have raised questions over whether Egypt's vital tourism industry will be affected.

Here are some facts about the sector:

How Important Is Tourism to Egypt?

-- Tourism accounts for over 11 percent of Egypt's gross domestic product, according to the tourism ministry.

-- It provides about one in eight jobs in the most populous Arab country.

-- About 12.5 million tourists visited Egypt in 2009, bringing revenue of $10.8 billion. Tourism brought in over $9 billion in the first nine months of 2010, government figures show.

-- Tourism is one of Egypt's top sources of foreign revenue.

Where Is Tourism Concentrated in Egypt?

-- Most major tourism sites are away from the heavily populated cities that have seen two days of anti-government protests.

-- The Red Sea resort towns of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada are major draws for tourists because of their beaches and year-round warm weather.

-- But antiquities such as the Egyptian Museum and the Giza Pyramids also draw millions of tourists to the capital Cairo, which has seen much of the unrest.

-- Also popular are the southern cities of Luxor and Aswan.

-- Most of Egypt's tourists come from Russia, Italy, France, Germany and Britain.

Are Tourist Companies Worried About the Protests?

-- Hamed El Chiaty, chairman of Egypt's Travco, said on Wednesday: "Given the fact that it was a peaceful demonstration, I don't think it will have a negative effect. Unless of course these demonstrations continue".

-- A spokesperson for Thomas Cook UK & Ireland (TCG.L) said: "We continue to monitor the situation in Egypt and we are in close contact with the FCO (British foreign ministry). Our experienced teams on the ground assure us that no tourist areas at the Red Sea have been affected in any way by the recent demonstrations".

How Has the Industry Weathered Previous Challenges?

-- The industry suffered after gunmen killed 58 tourists and four Egyptians at an ancient temple in Luxor in 1997, but has weathered disruptions relatively well since then.

-- The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the second Palestinian Intifada, and a series of bomb attacks on tourist resorts in Sinai from 2004 to 2006 all led to temporary decreases in tourist arrivals, but the trend over the last decade has been broadly upward.

-- Protests in Egypt may not be enough on their own to deter tourists. But news of unrest in Tunisia, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, could help convince some travellers to reroute to a region that is making fewer headlines. (Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz; Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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