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Egypt's Tourism Numbers Soar

Egypt’s days of struggling to rebuild its tourist economy may be reaching an end.

According to a new report from Bloomberg, the number of tourists to the country spiked by 40 percent during the first nine months of 2018 over a year earlier.

The country expects to exceed eight million visitors before the year is over, and visits are on track to reach levels in the next two to three years not seen since before the 2011 revolution.

Egypt's Tourism Numbers Soar© Getty Images (photo via pius99 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

“We expect that by the end of 2018 we will not be at the levels that we’ve seen in 2010, but we are approaching that,” Rania Al-Mashat told Bloomberg TV. “The rebound is quite steep and we’re trying to put the industry on a competitive base compared to our peers.”

To help that recovery along even further, Egypt’s government will soon announce a new private equity fund focused on upgrading hotels in the country and providing new investment opportunities in the Red Sea area, Al-Mashat said.

Home to such famed antiquities as the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Valley of Kings, tourism is a central part of the country’s economy. It accounts for 20 percent of output, Al-Mashat told Bloomberg TV.

Visitor numbers began declining dramatically years ago, however amid such incidents as a revolution, several airline disasters including the ISIL bombing of a Russian Metrojet flight over the Sinai Peninsula that killed 224 people, and deadly bombings at Coptic churches.

This year, the death of two British tourists at a Red Sea resort added health concerns to Egypt’s challenges.

By many accounts, it is the country’s tourism industry that has borne the brunt of the country's political uncertainty and security crises.

However, Al-Mashat told Bloomberg that the country’s government is working to diversify its tourist base and has begun targeting travelers from Asia and Latin America.

It’s also adding new attractions. Chief on that list is the $1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum, which is slated to open in 2020 and when it does will showcase more than 10,000 artifacts.

The country has also been opening more ancient tombs to the public, including the officially named “cursed tombs,” which contain the bodies of the workers who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. Located in a tribal mountain area, the tombs date back to Egypt’s fourth dynasty, which lasted from 2694 to 2513 BC. They were opened to the public in 2017.

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