By: Nada Badawi
The Tourism Satellite Accounts Unit (TSA) from the Ministry of Tourism said that the reasons behind the fall in ranking include “lack of security and safety in the country, absence of sustainable environment, potholed roads, poor quality of education and labor training.”
“The results come as no surprise given the turmoil in the country and the methodology of the survey,” said a Tourism Ministry official.
“The survey relied heavily on executives as well as statistics like traffic accidents,” he explained.
The WEF tourism report, published every two years since 2007, ranks nations based on a number of indexes including security and safety, health and hygiene, transport infrastructure, natural resources, cultural resources, and affinity for tourism and travel, among others.
The WEF report, which included 140 countries, showed that Egypt came in last on the TTCI after Pakistan, Yemen, and Chad.
The country also plunged 10 places from 2011 to 2013 in the TTCI’s overall rankings, coming behind Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Philippines.
Experts suggest that the drop may be have been caused by the political upheaval that has plagued Egypt since 2011.
The government explained in its report that “security and safety are two aspects which pose the most difficult challenges at the current time”.
“Thank God that we fell only ten spots,” Ehab Abdel-Aal, treasurer at Egypt’s Tourism and Travel Agencies Chamber (TTAC), told Daily News Egypt.
The government urged countries to begin tourism campaigns to encourage their citizens to visit Egypt, instead of warning them not to do so.
Chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation Elhamy El-Zayat stated that the rank is especially alarming alongside the rise in prices of the dollar.
“Hotel room prices will now increase by at least 40%; another setback in tourism,” he said.
He added that occupancy rates in Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada currently stood at 50% to 60 %, with only 10 % in Luxor, and 8% to 10 % in Cairo.
However, government and industry officials say that there are some signs of recovery for tourism, mainly because of “bargain-hunting Red Sea beachgoers, rather than the more profitable Sphinx-and-Pyramids circuit”.
Since the recent hot air balloon crash in Luxor, which killed 19 passengers, hot air balloon companies in the area reported average daily losses of $60,000.
The accident prompted the government to demand that the sector shut down its services.
Prior to the 2011 revolution, tourism accounted for 11% of Egypt’s GDP.