Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, on Friday pledged to guarantee security for tourists, whose numbers have slumped since last year’s uprising in a major setback for the country’s economy.
“After the revolution, Egyptians are intent on assuring security for all visitors,” the Islamist leader said on a visit to Luxor in southern Egypt, quoted by state news agency MENA.
“Egypt is safer than before and open to all, and Luxor will remain the capital of tourism and antiquities,” he said of the town which is rich in Pharaonic sites but has been hard hit by tourists staying away.
Morsi promised tourists visiting the temples of Luxor and Karnak “to make every effort to prevent anything that could damage tourism again.”
“Here, you have security. Move around freely and make the most of Egypt’s climate and ancient civilisation. We will do everything possible to ensure you enjoy your stay in Egypt,” he said, voicing optimism for the winter season.
On Thursday, Israel’s counter-terrorism office urged all its citizens to “immediately” leave Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, based on information on plans of attacks and abductions.
“From information at our disposal, it arises that terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip and additional elements are actively planning to perpetrate terrorist attacks,” it said.
Tourism, one of the main sources of Egypt’s revenue and employment, was badly hit during and after the 18-day popular uprising which ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
However, the sector has been recovering with the number of tourists rising 32 percent in the first quarter of 2012, industry officials said, as compared to the same period last year.
A total of 2.5 million tourists arrived in Egypt between January and March this year, compared with 1.89 million a year earlier, the tourism authority said.
Despite the recovery, the first-quarter figures were a sharp 27.8 percent lower than those registered in the same period of 2010. The recovery has been faster in Sinai and at the Red Sea resorts.