Egypt has seen promising growth in the number of Chinese tourists this year, yet the country is exerting more efforts to increase the number in the near future, Egyptian Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed told Xinhua in an interview Sunday.
The number of Chinese visitors to Egypt increased from 65,000 to 135,000 in 2015, and the tourism ministry has been targeting to greatly multiply the number in 2016 amid recession in Western tourists, given the distinguished ties and the growing partnership between the most populous Arab country and the most populous country in the world.
"The growth is promising. However, we're still far away from the targets we want to achieve. We certainly appreciate and value the Chinese tourists coming to Egypt. I think we don't have enough share out of that market," the minister said, stressing that his ministry is working on all of the strategies to attract more Chinese tourists.
Rashed explained that his ministry is currently working on all relevant mechanisms, including airline shares, development of the marketing and the advertising strategies and others "to increase the volume that we generate from the Chinese market."
Egypt has been suffering a sharp decline in the tourism sector over the past few years due to political turmoil. The situation further deteriorated due to the Russian plane crash in Sinai that killed over 200 in October last year, an Italian student's death from torture in Cairo in early February and a tragic fall of an EgyptAir flight in May that killed all 66 people on board.
Tourism is one of the main sources of national income and foreign currency reserves in Egypt, with about 4 million Egyptians working in the industry.
In 2010, it brought the country about 13 billion U.S. dollars as over 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt. The number of visitors kept falling until it reached 9.3 million in 2015 with 6.1 billion dollars in revenues.
The Egyptian tourism minister argued that the attack on tourism is not restricted to Egypt, citing some recent terror and violent acts in Munich, Nice, the United States and others, stressing his country's massive efforts to fight against terrorism in and outside its territories. "We need global cooperation to make the world much safer," he said.
Many Russian and Western tourists listened to the travel advisories of their governments to avoid Egypt for safety reasons, yet Egypt is noticeably achieving more security and stability as testified by most foreigners visiting the country.
"The message is that Egypt is where the history started," Rashed told Xinhua, adding that he has talked to many Chinese living in Egypt, and "they all feel very comfortable and safe to live, walk in the streets and drive here, which is a testimony that Egypt is evidently safe."
Egypt launched on Saturday the first Afro-Chinese Arts and Folklore Festival in the capital Cairo under the auspices of the tourism ministry, featuring various kinds of arts and performances from 17 countries including Egypt, China, Morocco, Algeria, Cameron, Ethiopia, South Sudan and others.
The minister said that tourism is a very cultural embedded industry, boasting that Egypt has one-third of the antiquities of the world "besides the largest beaches on the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea that are so attractive to all visitors including the Chinese."
"I certainly believe that this festival comes on time, and we really need to work together to make it more popular to bedazzle people outside Egypt and urge them to the visit the country," Rashed told Xinhua, describing the festival as a proof of Egypt's safety and "an additional value" to visiting the country.