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Pyramid Power
Tourists Return to Egypt

Following the Egyptian revolution in 2011 and the removal of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Egypt’s tourism industry crashed, taking much of the Egyptian economy with it. Now, under Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, there are strong indications that the tourists are coming back. As the Financial Times reports:

Tourist arrivals have shot up nearly 70 per cent in the third quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year. Arrivals in September increased 193 per cent compared with the same month in 2013, with 884,000 arrivals compared with 301,000.

“The overall sector has seen a remarkable recovery in the second half of 2014, especially during holiday seasons in the beach resorts,” said Christian Muhr, vice-president of Egypt operations for Hilton Hotels, which owns 18 properties across the country. “The forecasts for 2015 are promising as well.” […]

“The interesting development and improvement is Cairo. Most of the last four years Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada [the Red Sea resort city] were doing relatively fine, but Cairo was doing really poorly. This time the improvement really is Cairo.”

Sisi’s ultimate strategy is to work toward restoring political stability in hopes that it will have the knock-on effect of bringing tourism back to Egypt. We’re also starting to see the kinds of overall economic reforms that Sisi will introduce to make that sustainable, including significant investment in revenue-producing infrastructure like the planned expansions of the Suez Canal.

The concept is sound, but the economic challenges are many. Moreover, political stability is hardly guaranteed. An ISIS affiliated group has carried out a series of large bombings, mostly in the Sinai, and this Friday is set for mass rallies around the country in which the Salafist Front, backed by the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, will demand a revolutionary restoration of Egypt’s Islamic identity. The economic signs so far are positive, but Egypt isn’t quite on the road to a guaranteed recovery just yet.

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