Egypt tourism industry loses $1bn a month during pandemic

Tourism accounts for more than 12% of Egypt's gross domestic product

Egypt tourism

With thousands of years of history, one of natural wonders of the world and coastal areas to soak up the sun, Egypt’s tourism industry has always managed to overcome the challenges thrown at it. However according to a piece from the BBC, the coronavirus pandemic has proved especially difficult for the country’s tourism sector.

Speaking to the BBC, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Anany revealed the virus has decimated tourism in the country. "It was a disaster for us, like the whole world," he said. "We lost around $1bn per month and we're estimating that we'll still lose a lot of money during the coming weeks and months."

Tourism is crucial for the Egyptian economy, accounting for 12% of GDP and 9.5% of all jobs, around 2.5 million.

The pyramids of Giza, which draw in millions each year, reopened on July 1 – with only a few locals visiting on opening day said the BBC. "It's been so hard for everyone. We've spent four months at home," said Ashraf Nasr, who has been offering camel rides to sightseers for 25 years. "Each camel needs 100 Egyptian pounds a day for food."

Tour guide Shahenda Adel, a Giza resident, revealed to the BBC that the virus lost her around 1,000 holiday bookings almost overnight. She said: "Finally, everything was so stable. I was busy the whole week. But after the coronavirus, everything just disappeared.”

"We had to cancel hotels - and that involves everyone who works in the hotel, the travel company itself, all the people behind desks. We all lost our jobs. And then you have drivers and restaurants," she added.

Like other countries in the region, 2020 was looking like a big year for Egyptian tourism. In 2019, 13.6 million people visited Egypt, a number thought to rise to 15 million this year.

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