Official figures issued by the government indicated the marked decline in the Egyptian tourism sector in the past month, with the tourist arrival rates of December 2015 being 43.7% lower than the arrival rates in the month of December 2014.
The Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) stated that the number of arriving tourists dropped from 781,600 in December 2014 to 440,000 in December 2015. In the same period of comparison, the number of nights spent in Egyptian resorts by tourists declined from 7.1m nights to 2.2m nights.
The decline in tourism in December is attributed to the downing of a Russian commercial jet on 31 October in North Sinai, wherein all 224 passengers and crew members on board died. As a result of the crash, Russia and the United Kingdom suspended flights to Egypt.
In 2014, Egypt’s tourism sector hosted three million Russian national tourists, despite the depreciation of the value of the Russian Ruble. The average spending rate for Russian tourists ranged between $50 and $55 per night. In January 2015, the ministry decided to exempt Russian tourists from paying the $25 entrance visa fee to encourage further arrivals.
Egyptian tourist centres have been largely left abandoned. Sharm El-Sheikh has recorded an occupancy rate below 20% since the crash, and total hospitality industry losses in the same period are estimated to be at EGP 6bn, according to Governor of South Sinai Major General Khaled Fouda and Hesham Ali, the head of the Tourism Investment Association in South Sinai.
Since the 25 January Revolution, the Egyptian tourism sector has faced constant struggles due to political, economic, and secruity instability. The losses incurred over the past five years amounted to $15bn, according to Elhamy El-Zayat, the head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation.
Regular militant attacks on tourism locations have also led to the further deterioration of the tourism sector.
Seeking to improve the sector’s state, the government launched several international and domestic campaigns to attract tourists.
Earlier this month, Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou announced the allocation of $32m (EGP 250m) to strengthen security measures. Scanning and detection equipment will be purchased and closed-circuit television systems will be installed, the minister said, adding that the number of security personnel in resorts will increase.