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Egypt's tourist sector struggles after uprising

Egypt's tourist sector struggles after uprising
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Egypt’s most famous tourist sites, the great pyramids, are back open for business.

It follows protests and unrest during a popular uprising ousted former president Hosni Mubarak just over two weeks ago. But foreign tourists are staying away.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Egypt’s economy, contributing 11 percent of its GDP. Two million Egyptians depend on this sector to feed their families.

Ahmed,a tour guide, said the conditions were “really bad” at present. “I don’t even have enough money to feed my camels,” he said.

Last year, 15 million foreign tourists visited Egypt. But now, the souvenir shops where they used to spend their money are empty.

In the centre of Cairo on the banks of the Nile, it is much the same story. Hotels, restaurants and bars are all deserted and it’s hitting this country’s pockets hard.

“We estimate our daily loss between 25 to 27 million dollars (18 to 20 million euros),” said Amr El- Ezaby, the chairman of the Egyptian Tourist Authority

In the coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, hotels were at 75 percent capacity at the start of the anti-Mubarak protests. On the day of his ouster, they were just 11 percent full.

For now, the only people at the pyramids are Egyptians.

This country’s tourist industry will need the foreign charter flights to start taking off again before business can really get back to normal.