Docked: Egypt’s Nile cruises docked, awaiting tourism recovery
The severe hit on Egypt’s tourism means more unemployment, late salaries. For now, the tourism sector is eyeing hand-over to civilian rulers for rebound.
October 22, 2011 10:11 by Reuters
Tourism is Egypt’s top foreign currency earner, accounting for over a tenth of gross domestic product. The Tourism Ministry has said most arrivals now head to beach destinations.
The hotel occupancy rate in Aswan is now hovering around 15 percent while cruise ships are at 30 percent, said Abdel Nasser Saber, head of the Tour Guide’s Syndicate of Aswan. They would normally expect to be full or even over-booked.
The tourism sector has been suffering since the uprising that ousted Mubarak in February, with brief months of relative relief, but matters won’t improve, residents inAswan say, until Egypt is stable and finished with its transition.
“This is a stark improvement from before. There have been long months when there was no one at all. Any clashes and spilled blood is going to keep the state of tourism like this,” he said. “We have to take the effort to calm potential tourists and get these elections over and done with.”
Egypt’s ruling military council has scheduled parliamentary elections to start on Nov. 28 for a staggered four-months-long vote but no date for the presidential vote has been set yet and serious haggling continues between opposition groups and the military over the process for transition.
Frequent protests and labour strikes, an eruption of sectarian tension and a lack of evident security is the complaint of many of the sector’s employees.
“If you drop a dark spot into a glass of milk, you probably won’t want to drink it. There has been no accident involving a tourist, but not everyone is ready to put themselves at risk in a country going through transition,” said Maged Nader, manager of the Sonesta Cruise boat.
“With poor management by authorities and the continuity of chaos, a lot of people are losing faith in the revolution,” Nader said, whose boat is now luckily running with 60 percent occupancy after Sonesta Cruise merged its lines.
Wide-spread disappointment among regular Egyptians with the way the military is handling the transition is also giving rise to concerns that civilians won’t be taking over power soon.