See also:
» 24.02.2010 - $280 million loan for Egypt’s airport development approved
» 27.08.2009 - Egypt and Tunis in top 10 worst beach vacation destinations
» 30.04.2009 - Cairo to host international anti piracy summit
» 09.10.2008 - African property boom drying up
» 12.08.2008 - Peddlers ordered off Egyptian pyramids sites
» 20.06.2008 - Sudden boom in Egypt property market
» 25.04.2006 - Egypt terror to hurt tourism industry temporarily
» 10.08.2004 - Surge in tourism to Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco

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Travel - Leisure | Economy - Development

"Egypt is safe; Tourists, come back!"

Cafe in central Cairo

© Scott D Haddow/afrol News
afrol News, 25 February
- Egyptians are calling on tourists to start returning to their country, now being safe. Indeed, very low prices and an enthusiastic population create a perfect environment for Egypt travellers.

In central Cairo's famous Tahrir Square, where the revolution was won, the victory is celebrated each Friday by large festive crowds, a growing number of tourists are taking place in the celebrations. They are still few, but are warmly received by the protesters, watching out for them and making sure they are safe.

Also at Tahrir Square, many of those having secured the revolution now are joining calls for international tourists to return to Egypt. "It is safe," they assure, and it would be the best way of the international community to support Egypt at these crossroads.

Indeed, tourists have never been as warmly welcomed to Egypt as these post-revolutionary days. The world-famous Egyptian Museum at Tahrir Square, which reopened earlier this week, welcomed the first international visiters with roses.

There are scenes of joy at the Giza pyramids; at the Nile cruiseboats; at historic sites in Luxor and Thebe as the first but few tourists start returning. Local businesses express their gratitude to the returnees in many ways.

One of these ways is lowering prices. Nile cruises could never be had as cheap as now; camel rides equally. Restaurants and hotels - even the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Cairo - offer major discounts to attract foreigners. Of course, occupancy rates are still far below normal.

Under these conditions, this is actually the best possible moment to visit Egypt. The joy of the revolution's victory is still strongly felt; visitors are welcomed in the warmest way; and prices in Egypt are at their lowest.

Although tourist numbers still are at their lowest, there is a remarkable i

Tahrir Square in Cairo today, with protesters celebrating the revolution

© Mona Seif/afrol News
nterest in the Egyptian destination. Currently, only regular flights go to Egypt. Tour operators have not resumed charter flights.

But the two major markets for travellers to Egypt - the UK and Germany - will soon revive. Germany's giant TUI already on 1 March resumes flights to Egypt from most German airports. Austria's ETI event resumes Egypt trips tomorrow, 26 February. British Thomas Cook is already operating trips to Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and Luxor.

"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," Thomas Cook Ltd says in an Egypt update issued yesterday. "They are fully operational and holidaymakers are continuing to enjoy the popular resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada."

Other countries are slower in normalising their Egypt travel operations, in some cases cancelled until April or even May. But this is quickly changing as governments are removing their Egypt travel warnings. Swedish operator Apollo yesterday announced that, following the lifting of the Stockholm Ministry of Foreign Affairs' travel warning, its first flight to Hurghada was to be precipitated by one month, to 2 April.

Egyptian authorities are doing their best to hasten such changes in Europe - their main travel market - despite the problems at the Ministry of Tourism, where the ex-Minister and several of his aides have been fired over corruption allegations.

Visiting German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle yesterday met his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul-Gheit and other ministers, in talks that to a large degree addr

Nile cruises remain popular in Egypt

© Egypt Tourism Ministry/afrol News
essed the tourism sector. Minister Abul-Gheit urged Germany to keep "the flow of tourists to the country" and Minister Westerwelle said government had not only lifted the trave warning, but was urging German tourists to visit Egypt.

Meanwhile, potential Egypt travellers all around the world are investigating ways to go and experience the new spirit in this ancient destination. Travel agents in the US are reporting on growing numbers of reservations and about tourists that had to cancel trips to Egypt earlier now are looking for new possibilities to go to the country.

From Finland, tour operator Finnmatkat reports a large request of people wanting to go to Egypt. These are both people made curious by the revolution and people that had to cancel their trips earlier this year. Among those having to cancel their trips, "many customers wanted to go Egypt in particular, which is why other destinations did not necessarily attract them", Finnmatkat reports. Following the pressure, trips from Finland to Egypt are to resume in mid-March.

Also TUI in Germany is noting an increased interest in its planned resumption of Egypt trips, which still remain fairly cheap. Interestingly, non-Germans are seeking to book Egypt travels through TUI as tour operators in their countries are slow to resume flights.

But despite these optimistic signals, the revivial of the Egytpian tourism industry is still very slow.

March will be the make-or-break month for the recovery of the country's tourism industry. Then, it will be seen if the 2011 season can be saved and if the large labour force in the sector can be maintained.

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