Egypt Independent: Egypt-Main news en Egypt's tourism to recover in 2017: AFP <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>After more than five years of devastation for Egypt&#39;s once-booming tourism industry due to intermittent fluctuations and security unrest, AFP reported on Sunday that the industry is recovering and positive indices are taking shape on the horizon.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Omaima al-Husseini, spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry, told AFP that January saw an increase in the number of tourists compared to the same month in previous years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That month, Tourism Minister Yehia Rashid said 2017 will witness a big boom in tourism according to the indicators and expectations of increasing bookings to the country&#39;s tourist destinations. This is compounded by the return of direct flights from a number of major markets including Russia, Britain and Germany to all Egyptian tourist spots.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The statistics showed high influx of visitors from China, Japan and Ukraine which accounted for a large part of the growth. According to China&#39;s top public travel agency, China International Travel Service, the number of tourists to Egypt jumped 58 percent in comparison to 2015.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Japan&#39;s HIS travel agency said the number of tourists heading to Egypt &quot;multiplied by four or five times last year; since charter flights from Japan to Egypt resumed in April 2016, they have been 80 percent full on average,&quot; said a spokesperson for the Japan Association of Travel agents.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to AFP, there was a modest increase in reservations from other European countries such as Germany and France. &quot;In early February, four other European countries -- Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden -- eased travel warnings against travel to south Sinai, where Sharm el-Sheikh and other resorts are situated,&quot; the article said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>German tourist website, Check 24, reported on Monday that Egypt ranked first in terms of tourist bookings in 2017, as the number of tourists who booked trips to Egypt in the first six weeks of this year grew by 84 percent, compared to the same period last year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div>Karim Mohsen, the head of Egyptian Federation of Tourism, said that compared to last year bookings increased exponentially in the period between October 2016 and January 2017. &quot;There is an improvement, especially for cultural tourism in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan,&quot; he told AFP.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;This uptick is a sign of hope for a country also reeling from the shock of an economic reform programme that has triggered massive inflation,&quot; Mohsen added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) reported that the annual inflation rate jumped to 29.6 percent in January 2017 compared to the same month last year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tamer al-Shaer, the vice president of the Blue Sky travel agency, told AFP that tourism activity climbed slightly up in 2016-2017 winter season, featuring a 30 percent increase in Ukrainian tourists and a 60 percent rise in visitors from China, with daily flights to Aswan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The AFP article shed light on the poor situation of the tourism industry since the 25 January Revolution in 2011; despite the sector&#39;s attempts to revive it, the industry has been hammered by deadly political crises throughout the past six years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The article mentioned the suicide attack in June 2015 which targeted a tourist bus near Luxor&rsquo;s Karnak Temple in Upper Egypt. While in October of the same year, a terrorist attack took down a Russian airliner killing all 224 people on board over the Sinai pennisula.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After this attack Russia suspended flights to Egypt and Britain cut air links with Sharm el-Sheikh.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Visitor numbers plunged from 9.3 million in 2015 to 5.3 million in 2016,&quot; ministry spokesperson al-Husseini said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The AFP report said Egypt hosted a record 14.7 million foreign tourists in 2010, a year before Hosni Mubarak&#39;s overthrow and the ensuing economic decline. &quot;Restoring even two-thirds of that number is a key government goal, but it hinges on Russia and Britain resuming flights,&quot; al-Husseini told AFP.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She pointed that negotiations&nbsp;are ongoing to resolve the issue as soon as possible, as more than 60 percent of tourists arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh by plane used to come from Britain or Russia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;If the Russians do not come back, there will be paralysis, as Russians and Britons are the backbone of Sharm el-Sheikh,&quot; the tourism federation&#39;s Mohsen told AFP.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:54:00 +0000 Hend El-Behary 2476509 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/01/14/16030/ru.jpg Court upholds death sentences for 10 Port Said stadium massacre suspects <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>The Court of Cassation has rejected challenges submitted by 10 suspects involved in the Port Said Stadium massacre, which occurred in 2012 when 72 fans of al-Ahly Club were killed, upholding the death sentences.</p><p>In June 2015, the Port Said Criminal Court sentenced 11 suspects to death, 10 to life in prison, while 10 others were dealt harsh prison sentences and hard labor.</p><p>Twelve suspects, including the Port Said security chief and security officials, were sentenced to five years hard labor, while 20 suspects were cleared.</p><p>The prosecution earlier accused the suspects of premeditated murder, attempted murder, robbery, sabotage and thuggery. It indicated the suspects; intentions to kill al-Ahly fans in revenge for previous conflicts, adding that they used force against the Ultras fan group using edged weapons, explosives, rocks and other tools.</p><p>The first verdict was issued on March 9, 2013, which saw 21 suspects sentenced to death, five others to life, 10 suspects to 15 years in prison, six suspects to 10 years, two suspects to five years, one suspect for one year with labor, and &nbsp;28 suspects cleared.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm&nbsp;</em></p> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:16:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2476505 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/02/02/94/ultras_ahlawy_in_suez_commemorate_the_third_anniversary_of_the_port_said_stadium_massacre_that__left_72_group_members_dead.png EgyptAir to renew fleet, retire 12 planes <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>EgyptAir started addressing global aircraft factories to obtain 35 to 40 new airplanes under a plan to renew the company&#39;s fleet.</div><div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>An EgyptAir source told Al-Borsa news website that this will be followed by other procedures to secure funds needed to modernize the company&#39;s fleet.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He added that EgyptAir will study the offers submitted by international companies and factories so the company can determine whether it will purchase or lease new aircrafts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He explained that the company requested the prices of wide-body planes, medium-range aircraft, and others that carry between 120 to 130 passengers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>EgyptAir put up 12 Embraer 170 planes, used in domestic flights, for sale. Each aircraft carries 76 passengers, according to the source.</div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><p>Egypt has contracted to purchase nine Boeing B737-800 at US$864 million. Boeing announced earlier on its website that eight of these planes would be funded by Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, as part of the deal&nbsp;.</p><div><div>Egypt Air currently owns 20 model 737-800 aircraft. After this new deal is implemented, this model will comprise the vast majority of the aircraft owned by the company, in addition to six&nbsp;777 Boeing airplanes.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Aviation Minister Sherif Fatehy said the company&#39;s plan before the flotation of the pound targeted the modernization of 105 planes by 2021. The plan was adjusted to 93 planes after the various economic reforms, he added.</div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:55:00 +0000 Egypt Independent 2476502 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/08/02/504802/egyptair.jpg Sisi meets American-Jewish delegation to discuss regional challenges, investment <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received a delegation comprising the heads of American-Jewish organizations on Sunday, in the presence of the head of Egypt&#39;s General Intelligence Khaled Fawzy.</p><p>&quot;During the meeting, the president stressed his keenness to receive delegations representing different [groups] from American society, in order to strengthen the bridges of communication and mutual understanding about the nature of the challenges facing the region, and ways of addressing them,&quot;&nbsp;presidency spokesperson Alaa Youssef said.</p><p>Sisi said American-Egyptian relations have expanded over the decades, adding that the next stage requires strengthening these relations in all fields, Youssef mentioned.</p><p>The president said Egypt is proceeding on the path to achieve overall economic development at a steady pace, through several critical economic measures, which aim to bring about a major development in the country&#39;s infrastructure, as well as facilitating investment and tackling corruption by way of strict procedures, which should provide a favorable environment for investment, Youssef added.</p><p>Sisi stressed that Egypt is working on economic developments and fighting terrorism at the same time. He added that terrorism threatens not only Egypt and the Middle East, but the whole world.</p><p>He referred to the need of collaborating efforts at the international level to&nbsp;eliminate sources of funding and arming for terrorist organizations.</p><p>Egypt confronts terrorism both security-wise and intellectually, he said, pointing to the development of religious discourse and promoting the principles of coexistence and citizenship as means of fighting terrorism intellectually.</p><p>Members of the delegation stressed their great appreciation for Egypt&#39;s pivotal role in maintaining stability and peace in the Middle East, in addition to the government&#39;s efforts in courageously addressing economic challenges, according to Youssef.</p><p>At the end of the meeting, the delegation put an emphasis on communicating their positive impressions of Egypt to the American people and circles of decision-makers in the United States, and praised the steps taken by the Egyptian government to boost the living standards of the Egyptian people and develop the business climate. They expressed their intention to encourage American investment in Egypt, Youssef said.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>&nbsp;Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></p> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:16:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2476494 at sites/default/files/photo/2016/09/20/43/r.jpg