Egypt Sees 46% Drop in August Tourist Numbers Amid Strife

The number of tourists arriving in Egypt tumbled by almost 46 percent in August compared with the same month last year, the Tourism Ministry said in e-mailed statement today.

A total of 564,517 tourists visited Egypt in August this year compared with 1,037,785 in the same month last year, according to the figures. On July 3, Egypt’s military ousted the country’s Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, following mass protests, after which some tourism companies suspended flights.

Tourism is one of the government’s main sources of foreign currency and its decline has added to pressure on currency reserves. Egypt ranked last in terms of security and safety on the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.

A ballooning accident in February, in which at least 19 foreign tourists died, added to difficulties in reviving tourism.

Meanwhile, a senior Egyptian police officer was shot dead by gunmen as security forces stormed an Islamist stronghold near Cairo today in the latest outbreak of violence.

Egypt has seen mounting political and security tension since the army’s ouster of Mursi and the violent dispersal of two pro-democracy sit-ins on August 14.

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