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Interview: Egypt's renowned Sharm al-Sheikh resort safe for Chinese tourists: official
From:Xinhua  |  2019-02-10 22:20

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian governor called on Chinese tourists to visit the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, saying that the city is safe and amusing for Chinese visitors.

"We call on the entire Chinese people to visit Sharm al-Sheikh ... I assure them that it is a very safe and beautiful city," South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda told Xinhua.

Fouda added that Sharm al-Sheikh embraced earlier in February, for the second year in a row, a three-day event to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year.

During the event, Chinese bands performed a variety of Chinese shows, featuring traditional music and dance of China's Shanxi Province.

"We saw with our Chinese friends the Chinese culture and fine arts, and we enjoyed many kinds of Chinese food during the celebration," Fouda said.

The governor added that the celebration was "a good opportunity for the residents and tourists of Sharm al-Sheikh to get closer to the Chinese culture and arts."

"As Egyptians, we love the Chinese people and we are working to develop relations with China," he said, adding that an agreement will soon be signed between Sharm al-Sheikh and China's Hunan Province.

Fouda said that the hotel occupancy in the city reached 50 percent.

Tourism in Egypt, a major source of its national income and foreign currency reserve, was hit with a heavy blow following the Russian airplane crash in North Sinai in October 2015, after which several countries, including Russia and Britain, suspended their flights to Egypt.

This aggravated the recession in the country's already ailing tourism sector because of political instability.

Even before the Russian plane crash, Egypt suffered a sharp decline in tourists because of three years of political turmoil, including two mass uprisings that toppled two presidents.

Several countries were forced to ban their citizens from traveling to Egypt for safety reasons.

In December 2017, Egypt and Russia signed an agreement to resume direct flights to Cairo International Airport and then to the resort cities of Sharm al-Sheikh and Hurghada.

However, Russian flights to Sharm al-Sheikh and Hurghada are still pending.

Russian security delegations occasionally come to check airports at the two resorts. In an attempt to overcome this situation, Egypt seeks to attract tourists from other markets.

"New markets such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Georgia and some Latin American countries have also been opened," the governor said.

He added that Sharm al-Sheikh is hosting tourists from these countries, in addition to European tourists, particularly from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Italy and France.

"We hope that more tourists will come to enjoy this wonderful city," he said, adding that the country has launched many campaigns to attract tourists.

The revenues of Egypt from tourism saw a year-on-year increase of 77 percent in the first half of 2018 to reach 4.8 billion U.S. dollars, while the number of tourists arriving in the country increased by 41 percent to just over 5 million.

Egypt is a favorable attraction to hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists each year for its historical sites and sunny sandy beaches.

According to Egyptian statistics, China has become the fourth largest exporter of tourists to Egypt since 2017.

Egypt ranks first as the most visited tourist destination in Africa by Chinese tourists, according to the "2018 Chinese Citizens Africa Tourism Report" released by CYTS Travel Network.