Hotel occupancy down in Cairo and Sharm el-Sheikh

Hotel occupancy in Cairo and the resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh has plunged from 2010, according to the head of the hotels sector at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, Osama al-Ashry.

Hotel occupancy in Cairo dropped to 40 percent, a 25 percent decrease from 2010. The rate in Sharm al-Sheikh went down to 58 percent, a drop of 20 percent from 2010.

Ashry told Al-Masry Al-Youm that tourists have been more attaracted to destinations far away from Cairo. He said a large sector of tourists chose to spend their Christmas vacations in oases where occupancy hit 100 percent.

He added that the falling rates were expected given the current security situation. "It is a harsh decline, but we still have confidence in Egypt's tourist destinations," he said.

Nagui Erian, a member of the Egyptian Hotels Association, said some tourist-sending countries such as the UK, France and Japan are wary of the establishment of a religious police service, which a number of Islamist acivists called for on Facebook in late December, copying the the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Authority in Saudi Arabia. The page's administrators claimed links to the Salafi Nour Party, which the latter denied.

"Travel agents from these countries have been asking if Egypt is turning into another Iran, but we have been assuring them that the suggestions were just conversations on social networks and no official action was taken," he said.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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