The white sandy beaches of Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Hurghada bustled with tourists as the country’s tourism sector is witnessing a boom after years of slowdown due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
In contrast to previous years, one can now easily spot crowds of tourists leisurely lounging on the beaches of Hurghada’s resorts, enjoying the warm sun and the pristine waters of the Red Sea.
Tourist hotspots and streets in the Red Sea coastal city were crowded with visitors from different countries. Many of them gathered at restaurants and cafes, relishing drinks and freshly cooked meals in the captivating summer ambience they long for in their own countries.
“The number of tourists coming to Hurghada this season is extremely large compared to the past three years,” said Mohamed Bakkar, a manager of a cafe in the city centre.
According to Bakkar, workers in the tourism sector did not expect that so many tourists would visit Red Sea’s Hurghada this year.
“We knew that the sector is recovering as tourists have increased over the past year, but the numbers of tourists this season were beyond our expectations,” he added.
The middle-aged man said the “good season” would make up for the loss of the previous three years, during which the tourism industry had suffered greatly due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the outbreak of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, two countries that are among Egypt’s major sources of tourists.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, a record high of more than 7 million tourists visited Egypt during the first half of 2023.
Egypt aims to attract 15 million tourists this year, and 30 million tourists by 2028, according to the ministry. Tourism is one of the pillar industries of Egypt, accounting for around 12% of its gross domestic product.
Official data shows the tourist number in Egypt dropped from over 13 million in 2019 to around 3.7 million in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has gradually recovered to about 8 million in 2021 and continued to rebound throughout 2022 to approach pre-pandemic levels.
Eyad Saad, an employee of a company that arranges safari, diving and snorkelling trips in Red Sea’s coastal city of Hurghada, said that this season’s turnout is notably high.
“The situation was not good during the past three years, but this year witnessed a significant increase in the number of both foreign and Egyptian tourists,” Saad told Xinhua.
Saad said his company had to hire more employees to meet customers’ growing needs for water sports.
A record 1.5 million tourists visited Red Sea’s Hurghada in the first half of 2023, said Abu al-Majd Ali, vice president of the Red Sea Governorate’s Chamber of Travel and Tourism Companies, adding reservations at the city’s hotels and resorts are on the rise.
He attributed the rise in the number of tourists to the Egyptian government’s efforts over the past few years, including the improvement of the infrastructure across the country, the building of new airports, and promoting of Egyptian tourist attractions globally.
“The government is working on a plan to increase the number of tourists. The opening of new museums in tourist cities, the construction of new roads connecting tourist cities, the expansion of tourist facilities in Egypt, and the successful promotion campaigns globally are all important parts of the plan,” Ali said.
He also pointed out that Egypt hopes that it could attract more visitors from China, which sends millions of big-spending tourists to the rest of the world every year.
“China used to be the fourth-largest source of tourists to Egypt before the outbreak of the pandemic … the numbers of Chinese tourists are already growing, and we hope the number of Chinese tourists would be back to a normal level soon,” Ali said.
Source : Daily News Egypt