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Rebuilding Egyptian Tourism: Facebook, Oprah Winfrey And The Return Of Travel Companies

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Egypt's Tourism RecoveryTwo weeks have passed since a popular uprising ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power, but despite the country’s ebullient mood, millions of tourists continue to stay away.

The Egyptian government statistics bureau estimated that around 210,000 tourists left the country during the last weeks of January, a loss that cost Egypt at least $178 million.

Meanwhile, cancellations in February cost the country another estimated $825 million.

Egypt’s revenue from tourism alone makes up 5 to 6 percent of its gross domestic product, and 2 million Egyptians depend on tourism for their livelihoods.

The seriousness of Egypt’s tourism problem has the country’s new Minister of Tourism Munir Fakhry Abdel Nour looking at unconventional methods to bring back travelers.

Abdel Nour has reached out to a number of celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, to visit the country and encourage tourists to return.

Learn more about Egyptian travel:

View of the Pyramids In EgyptIn a press conference Sunday, the minister also expressed his interest in using social media to bring attention to the country. He called for tech-savvy young Egyptians to go on Facebook and Twitter to promote their country.

Abdel Nour is also actively campaigning to have travel bans and warnings to Egypt lifted.  This morning, Italy lifted its travel warning to Egypt.

The U.S State Department, however, has yet to lift travel warnings for Americans traveling to Egypt.

Regardless, many tour operators like Abercrombie & Kent and Grand Circle Corporation plan to return to Egypt this month.

One company is even banking on Egypt’s notoriety. A new tour by Caravana-Serai Tours plans to take tourists to protest sites in Cairo and Alexandria, and to meet inhabitants who experienced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak at Tahrir Square.

Abdel Nour has vowed to have the Egyptian tourism industry back on its feet by year end.

By Adriana Padilla with Terese Torgersen for PeterGreenberg.com.

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