Tourism in Egypt

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Tourism is one of the most important parts of Egypt's economy. Approximately 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, providing revenues of nearly $12.5 billion.[1] At its peak the sector employed about 12% of Egypt's workforce[2] as well as contributing more than 11% of GDP and 14.4% of foreign currency revenues.[3]


Income from tourism (1982–2003)

The number of tourists in Egypt stood at 0.1 million in 1951. Tourism as an important sector of the economy picked up pace from 1975 onwards, as Egypt eased visa restrictions for almost all European and North American countries and established embassies in new countries like Austria, Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. In 1976, tourism was heavily included in the Five Year Plan of the Government, where 12 % of the budget was allocated to upgrading state-owned hotels, establishing a loan fund for private hotels, and upgrading infrastructure (including road, rail and air connectivity) in major tourist centers in the coastal areas. In 1979, tourism experts and specialists were brought in from Turkey and several new colleges were established to teach diploma courses in hospitality and tourism management. The tourist inflow increased to 1.8 million in 1981 and then to 5.5 million in 2000. The maximum number of tourists – 14.7 million visited Egypt in 2010.[1][4] The revenues from tourism reached its maximum – $ 12.5 billion in 2010.[1] Since 2010 the number of tourists significantly declined (to 9.5 million in 2013) due to the general unrest in the country, while revenue declined to $ 5.9 billion.[1]

In the first half of 2014 the number of tourists further declined by 25 % as compared with the same period of 2013, while revenues shrank by 25% as well.[5][3]

In 2013, Egypt was ranking the 85th position of world's best country in terms of tourism and traveling, while in 2011, it was the 75th.[6]

In the Table below there is information about tourism in Egypt from 2010 to 2014.[1]/[5][3]

Tourism in Egypt in 2010–2014
Year Total number of tourists,
Total number of nights,
Total revenue,
billion USD
2010 14.7 147.4 12.5
2011 9.8 114.2 8.7
2012 11.5 137.8 10.0
2013 9.5 94.4 5.9
2014 (first half) 4.44 3
2015 9.6 7

Major attractions[edit]

Abu Simbel Temples

The celebrated tourist attractions of Egypt are the millennia-old monuments for which the Nile Valley is world famous. Principal among them are the Pyramids and Great Sphinx at Giza, the Abu Simbel temples south of Aswan and the Karnak Temple Complex and Valley of the Kings near Luxor. Cairo also boasts the Cairo Museum and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha and the coastal areas of Sinai Peninsula are very popular with visitors as well.[7]

  • Giza, 20 km southwest of Cairo, is the site of some of the most impressive and oldest (26th century BC) ancient monuments in the world, including a complex of ancient Egyptian royal mortuary and sacred structures, including the Great Sphinx, the Great Pyramids of Giza, a number of other large pyramids and temples, and Cairo's modern tower.
  • Saqqara, some 30 km south of Cairo is a vast, ancient burial ground which served as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis. It features numerous pyramids, including the world's oldest standing step pyramid, as well as a number of mastabas.
  • Luxor, about 500 km south of Cairo, is the site of the ancient city of Thebes and has sometimes been called "the world's greatest open-air museum". It includes the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor, which stand within the modern city. On the opposite side of the Nile River lie the monuments, temples and tombs on the West Bank Necropolis, which include the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.
  • Abu Simbel, about 850 km south of Cairo (near the Sudanese border) is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples originally carved out of a mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II (13th century BC). The complex was relocated in its entirety in the 1960s to avoid being submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser. They are now situated on an artificial hill made from a domed structure high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir.
  • Alexandria is a main summer resort, due to its beaches, ancient history and Museums, especially the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a modern project based on reviving the ancient Library of Alexandria.
  • Sinai Peninsula- Sinai has become a tourist destination due to its natural setting, rich coral reefs, and biblical history. Most popular tourist destination in Sinai are Mount Sinai ("Jabal Musa") and Saint Catherine's Monastery, which is considered to be the oldest working Christian monastery in the world, and the beach resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba.
  • Ain Sukhna, about 110 km east of Cairo has a number of beach resorts.
  • Assiut:in south of Egypt, it includes many touristic attractions (Pharaonics-Coptic, Islamic and Modern).


Giza Pyramids

5,000 years ago, the pharaonic nation was founded in Egypt, and they were a sophisticated and civilized society. This nation left a very large amount of monuments and temples. Most of the reminders of this well known nation is preserved in Egypt. These monuments draw many tourists, who like to watch and appreciate these reminders, to Egypt.

Some of the well-known artefacts of ancient pharaonic civilization are: Pyramids: Perhaps the most known pyramids are the three pyramids of Giza, but there are more than 70 pyramids along the Nile. Beside the giant three pyramids is Sphinx, a lion-bodied guard of the pyramids. The pyramids were built more than 4,000 years ago in the eras of Kings Cheops, Kefren and Mykerinos. These three kings' bodies are buried in these enormous pyramids. The biggest pyramid, Cheops', is known as the Great Pyramid because it measues 145 meters tall. Touristic places beside the pyramids are The Solar Barque Museum, The Sphinx Complex and The Sphinx Sound and Light Show.

Saqqara Complex: The vast necropolis of Saqqara including Memphis is located 24 kilometers south of central Cairo. Memphis was founded in about 3000 BC by Menes, along with 11 other pyramids. Memphis was the administrative capital of ancient Egypt. You will find Zoser's funerary complex, Mereruka's tomb, and Serapeum. Serapeum is a large limestone structure and an amazing collection of mummified Apis bulls in gargantuan granite coffins of various kings such as King Teti

The valley of the Kings

Valley of the Kings in Thebes: The Valley of the Kings covers its secrets well. The grand pyramids of the earlier pharaohs were too tempting to thieves, wanting to steal the pharaohs treasure, so from the eighteenth to twentieth Dynasties, about 26 pharaohs built their tombs in the valley. Carving them into the eterning mountains, far from any messing hand. Famous tombs there belong to Tutankhamun, Ramses the Great and Tuthmosis III. This valley is located in Luxor.

There are other interesting tombs to see in the Valley of the Queens and nobles

Nile cruises[edit]

Nile Cruise Between Aswan And Esna, Egypt

Nile cruises may vary considerably, but typical Nile cruises are either three, four or seven nights. The shorter tours usually operate between Luxor and Aswan, while the longer cruises travel further north to Dendera, often offering day tours overland to more remote locations.

Old Nile Cruise

The usual cruise is aboard a Nile cruiser, often referred to as a floating hotel. Indeed, the better boats have most of the accommodations of a land based hotel, including small swimming pools, hot tubs, exercise rooms, nightclubs, good restaurants, stores and even small libraries. Many of the boats have dance areas with disco or even live entertainment, and most offer a variety of nightly shows. These might include cocktail parties, Nubian shows, belly dancers and whirling dervish, plays and even dress up parties where guests don traditional apparel.

A much more adventurous style of Nile cruise, very different from the floating hotels can be arranged aboard feluccas, Egypt's traditional Nile sailboat. Most felucca trips are short trips of several hours, but multi-day felucca cruises can be arranged aboard larger vessels traveling between Aswan and Luxor. The accommodations on a felucca are primitive. Tourist sleep in the open on deck and the sailors double as cooks.

Around the middle of April, locks on the Nile river are closed due to water levels, ultimate time for a Nile cruise is between October and mid April, when the weather is fairly cool, but the locks are all open. However, most cruise boats operate all year. If the locks are closed, cruise operators will arrange boats on either side of the locks, and a transfer must be made between boats.

Pricing, as with land hotels will also have a wide range, based on both the boat and the accommodations.


Passports and visas are required of foreign visitors except natives of several Middle Eastern countries. Transit voyagers, however, that travel by ship or plane are not required to obtain visas. Travellers native to most of Africa must have proof of cholera and yellow fever vaccination.[7]


There are nine international airports in Egypt that serve all of the county’s major cities including Cairo International Airport and Taba International Airport.[8]

Cairo International Airport is the main gateway to Egypt and is located about 15 miles northeast of the city in northern Egypt. Cairo’s three terminals receive flights from all major world cities including those in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. You can reach central Cairo by bus, while numerous taxis also run to the city and its hotels at a reasonable price. Limousines are also available as a more comfortable alternative.

Located in central Egypt, Luxor International Airport is a popular facility that serves the Nile Valley and it a convenient gateway for people heading to the poplar tourist destinations of the region. It has connections from the UK, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, and Turkey. Two updated terminals serve international and domestic flights, with a number of Egyptian carriers including Air Cairo and Egypt Air operating from the airport. The airport is located close to the city centre and taxis, limos and regular buses are available for transfers into the city.


Misr Train Station in Alexandria

Egyptian Railways is the backbone of passenger transportation in Egypt, with 800 million passenger miles annually.[9]

Air-conditioned passenger trains usually have 1st and 2nd class service, while non-airconditioned trains will have 2nd and 3rd class. Most of the network connects the densely populated area of the Nile delta with Cairo and Alexandria as hubs.

The Alexandria-Cairo-Luxor-Aswan link is served daily in both directions by air-conditioned sleeper trains of Abela Egypt. This service is especially attractive to tourists who can spend the night on the train as it covers the stretch between Cairo and Luxor. A luxury express train also connects Cairo with Marsa Matruh towards the Libyan border.

Egyptian currency[edit]

1 Egyptian Pound Obverse
1 Egyptian pound Reverse

The currency in Egypt is the Egyptian pound – usually abbreviated as EGP and sometimes, LE or L.E.. The 1/100th unit of EGP is the Piastre. The approximate exchange rate for 1 USD is 7.0 EGP as of August 2013. The Central Bank of Egypt controls the circulation of currency. As of May 2009, the currency notes in circulation have a denomination of EGP 200, 100, 50, 20, 5, 1 and Piastres 50, 25.[10]

There is no limit on the amount of currency which the visitors may bring to Egypt, however, they must declare the currency and amount upon arrival and departure with bank receipts. If you are carrying Egyptian currency, it should not exceed EGP 5,000.[11][12]


Main article: Climate of Egypt

Peak tourist season in Egypt runs from mid October to May, during winter and spring. From May until October, the temperatures are fairly high, especially in Luxor and the southern parts of the country.

Egypt is one of the hottest and sunniest countries in the world. With the exception of a strip along the Mediterranean coast, Egypt has a desert climate, being entirely within the Sahara. The Mediterranean coastal strip has an average annual rainfall of 100–200 mm. In central and southern Egypt several years may pass without any significant rain.

Winters are generally warm in the south of Egypt, but temperatures fall rather abruptly at night so that desert evenings in winter can be quite chilly. The heat of southern Egypt in summer is fierce, and there is almost no relief from one day to another. The very low humidity, however, makes the heat more bearable.[13]

Impact of Egyptian Revolution on tourism[edit]

Oceanic Whitetip Shark swims at Elphinstone Reef in Egypt in the Red Sea on November 5, 2003

As the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 took place, the national industry of tourism declined. Visitor numbers decreased by some 37% in 2011. The number of visitors was 9 million in 2011 while it was over 14 million in 2010. This has had an influence on all other areas which ranges from travel accommodation to car rental, air transportation, health and wellness and tourist attractions, with value growth rates across the board declining to double digit territory. Tourism operators introduced heavy discounts in order to drain tourists back and prices remained low at the beginning of 2012.[14] Terrorism has affected the industry in recent times. A total of 58 foreign tourists were killed in the 1997 Luxor massacre. The tourist industry sunk even lower with the September 11 attacks in the eastern United States in 2001, the 2004 Sinai bombings, April 2005 terrorist attacks in Cairo, the July 23, 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks, and the 2006 Dahab bombings.

Historically, foreign tourists have been a common target of attacks dating back to the early 1990s. Militants have typically been motivated by a combination of Qutbism and opposition to the Mubarak government, and attacking foreigners including non-Muslims while hurting Egypt's tourist trade was seen as serving both goals.

The 2011 Egyptian revolution has affected tourism negatively, as have attacks on women by groups of men, including British Journalist Natasha Smith and Lara Logan in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Adla Ragab (January 14–15, 2014). Recent development of TSA in Egypt (pdf). Fourteenth Meeting of the Committee of Statistics and Tourism Satellite Account (TSA). Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Egypt tourism numbers to fall less than feared", Reuters Africa, October 21, 2009
  3. ^ a b c Matt Smith (11 September 2014). "Egypt tourist numbers to rise 5–10 pct in 2014 – minister". Reuters. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Egypt – international tourism". Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Dalia Farouk (16 July 2014). "Egypt tourist numbers decline 20.5 pct in June year-on-year". Ahram Online. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Table 1: The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index 2013 and 2011 comparison" (PDF). Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Egypt: Tourism, travel, and recreation". Nations Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-06-05. 
  8. ^ Aircraft Charter World: Airports in Egypt
  9. ^ Egypt National Railways
  10. ^ Central Bank of Egypt
  11. ^ Consulate General of Egypt
  12. ^ Consulate General of Egypt – Visa Application Instructions/Customs Declarations
  13. ^ BBC Weather Guide
  14. ^ "Travel and Tourism in Egypt,Travel and Tourism". Retrieved 24 April 2013. 

External links[edit]