Egypt said it expects visitors to the North African country to exceed 8 million in 2018, that is more than last year, and visits were on track to reach levels in the next two to three years not seen before the 2011 revolution.
Egyptian Tourism Minister Rania Al Mashat told The National that bookings for the second quarter of 2018 looked promising with visits to the Red Sea and Cairo on the rise. Egypt had 8.3 million tourists last year, according to official statistics.
Ms Al Mashat also said Egypt was seeking to tap investors to develop “exclusive” land in the Red Sea area where land has been allocated by the Tourism Development Authority for tourism projects.
As well as being hurt by the popular uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, in recent years some tourists have avoided Egypt amid an increase of violence in Sinai where the Egyptian army is fighting an insurgency by Ansar Bait Al Maqdis, a Salafist extremist group that pledged allegiance to the ISIS. Their acts of violence included downing a Russian passenger jet, that killed 224 people, over Sinai in October 2015. The incident led Russia to halt flights to Egypt until earlier this month.
The tourism minister said the return of Russian tourists since then "looked good". Egypt is also seeing greater interest from tourists from East Europe, Asia and other Arab countries. As a result, tourism’s contribution to GDP will increase beyond the current 15 per cent, Ms Al Mashat said.