Egypt is the second cheapest country in the world for international tourists, according to this year's edition of the "Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report", published every two years by the World Economic Forum.
Only Iran offered lower prices to tourists, the report said, taking into account airfare ticket taxes and airport charges, the relative cost of hotel accommodation as well as the overall cost of living, proxied by purchasing power parity, combined with fuel prices.
However, the exceptionally high ranking of Egypt in this category is heavily outweighed by the lower ratings due to persisting security concerns and infrastructure deficiencies in the country.
In terms of overall ranking of the most attractive, competitive and best prepared countries to receive tourists, Egypt ranks 10th in the MENA region and 83rd worldwide out of 141 countries. This is a rise from 85rd out of 140 countries in 2013, though the MENA ranking remains unchanged.
The TTCI index, first presented in 2007, measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the Travel & Tourism sector, which in turn contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country”. Composed of 19 separate pillars, it asseses such aspects of the local tourism industry as business environment, safety and security, health and hygiene, international openness, price competitivity and environmental sustainability, in addition to cultural resources and the quality of the air transport and ground infrastructure.
Spain, France and Germany top this year's ranking, followed by United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland, whereas Angola, Guinea and Chad have been ranked at the very end of the list. In the MENA region, United Arab Emirates are ranked on the first position (24th worldwide), followed by Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt, with approximately 9 million tourist arrivals per year, occupies the 10th position in the region, which the report estimates to be far below the country’s full potential, given that it is considered to be a highly price-competitive destination, with significant investments in the sector and outstanding cultural resources.
It is Egypt's instability that most reduces its appeal to international tourists, thus limiting revenues and resources available for investment. In terms of safety and security performance, Egypt has been ranked 136th out of 141 countries, as only Venezuela, Pakistan, Yemen, Colombia and Nigeria have received a lower rating in this category.
Egypt's international openness has also been evaluated as limited (115th position worldwide), in addition to the ground infrastructure (103rd position), which "requires a significant upgrade, especially in terms of quality of roads and efficiency of the transport network," according to the report. In this category, Egypt has been ranked alongside Kazakhstan and Lesotho.
Egypt also ranks 95th in terms of business environment, 64th with relation to health and hygiene, and 77th with regard to environmental sustainability. With approximately 9 million tourist arrivals in 2013, Egypt holds the 29th place worldwide, and the tourist sector represents 5.6 percent of the country's GDP.