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Tourists trickle back into Egypt

  |   Feb. 24, 2011 at 4:15 PM
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CAIRO, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Tour operators are booking travelers to Egypt but tourism is still down sharply following the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak, officials said.

"Believe it or not, people are starting to book trips," Nikos Tsakanikas, president of New York's Homeric Tours Inc., told CBS News. "The first ones to have people going is March 12."

"Some of them who canceled are coming back," Isram World of Travel Inc. President Ady Gelber told the network. "The Europeans are coming back, and the Americans will soon follow."

Still, the country is losing $1 billion a month in lost tourism, the tourism ministry said, and hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist guides complain of a huge drop in income.

"We are relying only on charter flights coming from Europe that take tourists to the Red Sea resorts but it is much less than before," ministry spokeswoman Omayma el-Husseini told The New York Times.

In Luxor, site of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, with some of the most beautiful Pharaonic temples and monuments, hotel occupancy dropped to 4 percent from 61 percent in mid-January, the Egyptian Tourism Chamber of Commerce said.

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