Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Egypt Taps Chinese Tourists As Western Visitors Stay Away

From launching new air routes to studying Mandarin, Egypt's tourism industry isn't just standing idly by while post-revolution problems keep American and European visitors away.

Edmund Bower

WORLD CRUNCH - 2015-07-18

CAIRO — Walking around the Egyptian Museum of Cairo, it's hard to imagine that just 10 years ago this world-famous attraction was crawling with foreign visitors. Nowadays, the museum is peacefully quiet, attracting mainly Egyptian school groups. But on this particular day in May, in a large empty hall of the museum, three foreign visitors stand in front of a statue of Hatshepsut.  They are from China, and are staying for just four days in Egypt. "We're enjoying our trip," says 27-year-old Long Yen. "We only have four days here, so we want to do as much as we can. This is the first time any of us has been to Egypt, so we want to see everything."  Many in Egypt's tourism industry see Chinese visitors like Long as the answer to their prayers. Tourism as a whole plummeted after the revolution, but while sun and sea tourism on the Red Sea has shown signs of a modest recovery, cultural tourism has remained in a slump. It was reported last year that revenue from cultural heritage sites had fallen by 95% since the revolution.  The only market for cultural tourism that hasn't shrunk is the Chinese market. Far from decreasing, the number of Chinese visitors is expected to double from pre-revolution levels.  Since the year 2000, external Chinese tourism has increased worldwide from 13 million to 165 million per year. During this period, the Chinese share of world tourism has gone from being a relatively small amount to the largest outbound market, thanks to growing prosperity and government policies aimed at stimulating international travel.