Egypt Independent

Tourism declined 33 percent, says minister

The number of tourists who visited Egypt in 2011 declined 33 percent from 2010, Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said on Sunday. In 2010, 14.7 million tourists visited the country.

Abdel Nour attributed the decrease to deteriorating security conditions in the country, particularly after the country's police forces retreated from the cities in late January.

The 2011 figures showed that revenues from tourism were US$8.8 billion, compared to $12.5 billion in 2010.

Tourism accounted for more than a tenth of Egypt's gross domestic product before this year's upheaval. It employed an estimated eighth of the population’s workforce in a country of high unemployment.

Tourism is also a crucial source of much-needed foreign currency in Egypt. Analysts say that one of the country's most pressing problems is the ongoing decline in foreign reserves, a phenomenon which could lead to rampant inflation.

According to the central bank, foreign reserves have fallen to 18 billion dollars from 36 billion dollars at the beginning of 2011.