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Egypt bids to woo back visitors

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 - 01:37

Three years after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is trying hard to restore tourism to its previous levels, but it's a tough challenge. Amy Pollock reports.

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Tourists are beginning to visit Egypt once more. But three years after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak the industry is still facing choppy waters. The government recently said it hoped numbers would rise by 10 percent this year and be back to pre-uprising levels next year. But with a renewed threat from Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula there's no guarantee. More than 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, dropping below 10 million in 2011. Visitors picked up in 2012 but shrank again last year. And cruise boats still line the banks of the River Nile, waiting for the tourists to flood back. Sailor Shazly Mohamed hopes it will be soon. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SAILOR SHAZLY MOHAMED, SAYING: "Our country, Egypt, is nice and people from all around the world come here. Foreigners feel safe here and they leave their bags and money with us when they visit sites and return to find they're still there," Boatmakers like Shabaan Rashad are finding demand for their skills has fallen too. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BOAT MAKER, SHAABAN RASHAD, SAYING: "Things have become very slow during the past four years of revolution. The entire country came to a standstill, tourism stopped and the people who wanted to take cruises down the Nile stopped doing so too." Tourism in Egypt was once worth 12.5 billion dollars. But in May a suicide bomber targetted the popular resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. And that attack came just months after three South Koreans were killed in a bomb attack on a tourist bus near the border with Israel. It may be a little while yet before Nile cruise ships are back to full capacity.

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Egypt bids to woo back visitors

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 - 01:37