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Egypt tries to revive vital tourism

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 - 01:53

Egypt's tourism industry has been hammered by uprisings and attacks. But as Sonia Legg reports, in recent months it's been on a mission to revive a sector that's vital to the country's economy.

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Sahl Hashish is Egypt's fastest growing luxury holiday resort. And here there's little sign of the political turmoil that's gripped the country since an uprising three years ago. But occupancy is low. So too is the country's tourism revenue - down by almost a quarter in the first half of the year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST, ANJA BUCHOLH, SAYING: "We all have to believe in Egypt. We have to all believe in it. Putting all efforts inside because it's a beautiful country. Why should you leave? You can have everything here." In 2010 nearly 15 million tourists visited. After the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak fewer than 10 million came. Things picked up in 2012 but visitors were put off again last year after a series of attacks. A suicide bomber targetted the resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in May, killing a soldier. And three South Koreans were killed in February when a bomb hit a tourist bus near a border crossing with Israel. Mohamed Kamal Saad manages the Egyptian Resorts company. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) GENERAL MANAGER OF THE EGYPTIAN RESORTS COMPANY, MOHAMED KAMAL SAAD, SAYING: "Of course, we are still suffering from the crisis one way or another. But we have used the time to improve our services. It was expensive, but we are determined to continue." Tourism now accounts for 11% of GDP. A campaign launched in May - involving festival and financial incentives - is helping. Nemat Tawfiq is Vice President of the Egyptian Tourism Authority. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE EGYPTIAN TOURISM AUTHORITY, NEMAT TAWFIQ, SAYING: "Tourism has recovered by an extent that is reassuring, our marketing techniques are working and we are moving along the right path." Egypt has sought investment from the United Arab Emirates in recent months. And it's not afraid to sell off its silverware - the government recently sold five plots of land along the Red Sea coast. It says it's willing to consider other offers.

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Egypt tries to revive vital tourism

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 - 01:53