EGYPT
is braced for a 50% drop in tourists as visitors stay away in the wake of the
September 11 terrorist attacks on the US.

Minister
of Tourism Mamdouh El Beltagui said figures for October are not finalised, but
he expects them to show a massive 50% fall compared to the same month last
year.

Total
visitor figures for September were down more than 18% to 371,849. There were
29,562 tourists from the UK, more than 11% down on September 2000.

Branding
the attacks as “mad” and “crazy”, he added: “We are
looking individually at each market to see what we can do to encourage tourists
back.

“Jobs
and companies are at risk and we are doing everything we can to help the
private sector, to prevent collapses and protect employment.”

El
Beltagui would not discuss figures, but said the budget has been increased by
more than 15% to pay for additional advertising and media visits to try to
reassure people that Egypt is safe.

He
added that he was working with Egyptair and hotel groups to reduce package
prices by cutting air fares and accommodation costs.

The ministry has already reduced domestic air fares by
40% until May 1 2002 and postponed plans to increase entry fees to
archaeological sites.