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Egypt announces $1B fund for troubled tourism sector

File - Tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2010, when visitor numbers were at their highest in four years.

CAIRO: Egypt hopes to raise $1 billion through an investment fund to support its tourism sector, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said Wednesday, after more than three years of violence and political instability that have decimated the sector.

He said a roadshow was likely to start in July with Gulf Arab states, which have already given billions of dollars in aid to Egypt. The fund is expected to raise $250 million by next quarter and the remaining amount within a year.

Violence flared when Hosni Mubarak was deposed in 2011, but has intensified since the army ousted Mohammad Morsi, the country’s first elected president, in July. That has further depressed interest from tourists and foreign investors.

Over 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, dropping to 9.8 million after the revolution that toppled Mubarak. The sector picked up in 2012, attracting 11.5 million, but shrank again to 9.5 million last year after attacks on tourist destinations.

Two South Korean tourists were killed in February when a bomb hit their bus in South Sinai, near the Israeli border.

Egypt is under increasing pressure to find sources of revenue to cover its budget deficit, which swelled to 14 percent last year. Its foreign reserves dipped to a critical low last year and its tourism revenue dropped by 43 percent to $1.3 billion in the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi will be sworn in as president Thursday after he won more than 90 percent of the vote this month. However, a low turnout threatens to deprive him of the strong mandate he needs to fix the economy.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 06, 2014, on page 5.

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Summary

Egypt hopes to raise $1 billion through an investment fund to support its tourism sector, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said Wednesday, after more than three years of violence and political instability that have decimated the sector.

Over 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, dropping to 9.8 million after the revolution that toppled Mubarak.

Its foreign reserves dipped to a critical low last year and its tourism revenue dropped by 43 percent to $1.3 billion in the first quarter of this fiscal year.


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