Tourism to Egypt down 46 percent in first quarter

CAIRO Sun May 22, 2011 5:55pm IST

Soldiers stand guard while men clean Tahrir Square in Cairo April 12, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih/Files

Soldiers stand guard while men clean Tahrir Square in Cairo April 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih/Files

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CAIRO (Reuters) - The number of tourists visiting Egypt slumped 46 percent in the first quarter when mass protests ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the government's statistics agency said on Sunday.

The unrest that began on Jan. 25 prompted embassies to issue travel warnings and many tour groups cancelled trips, throwing an industry that is a major source of foreign currency into crisis.

Foreign reserves fell to $28.0 billion in April, the lowest in four years.

"The tourism industry is still affected by the recent events in Egypt causing a great decline in the number of tourists ... which reached 1.9 million tourists," the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said.

Egypt's economy contracted an estimated 7 percent in the January-March quarter. The International Monetary Fund has projected growth of 1.0 percent this year, down from 5.1 percent in 2010.

(Reporting by Sarah Mikhail; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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