The Egyptian tourism is showing signs of recovery with foreign reserves stabilizing after an early year uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak scared off tourists and investment, Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi says.
Citing a discussion with the tourism minister, el-Beblawi told Reuters of positive signs that indicate the industry was bouncing back as one of Egypt's major economic pillars.
"He told me in a very systematic way the level of occupancy in Sharm el-Sheikh and other places on the Red Sea was systemically and constantly recovering. If this trend continues by the end of the year we will reach the normal level.
''He (the tourism minister) also mentioned to me that after all that we expect that tourism will contribute for this year $10 billion in revenues," Beblawi said.
el-Beblawi told Reuters that the Egyptian government forecast revenues from tourism would total $10 billion in the financial year that started on July 1, compared with $11.6 billion in 2009/10.
The impressive forecast is no surprise. After the popular uprising that led scores dead, international confidence is said to have returned to Egypt, with more tourists returning to the popular Egyptian destinations.
A stabilizing tourism industry appears to have also slowed down the decline in foreign reserves of the north African country. Just before the uprising, reserves were about $36 billion. But as at the end of June reserves were $26.57, down $659 million on a month earlier.
"I think that the actual level of the reserves is adequate and we hope to maintain this level, but I think the economy can stand even some reduction if there is necessity," Egypt's finance minister said.
Over 12.8 million tourists reportedly visited Egypt in 2008, providing revenues of nearly $11 billion and about 12 percent of Egypt's workforce is said to be in the sector's employ.