by Marwa Yahya
CAIRO, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- "The number of Chinese tourists is on the rise," said Ahmed Abdullah, governor of the Red Sea province.
The Red Sea resorts in Egypt have been working hard recently on attracting the Chinese tourists, said Abdullah in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
He attributed the large number of Chinese tourists to the visits of the two countries' top leaders and their instructions to promote the exchange of tourists.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has visited China for five times since he took office in 2014.
The Red Sea governor expected an increase in the number of Chinese tourists to Egypt in 2019, as all the hotels in the province offer guidance in Chinese language.
He added the hotels that accommodate the Chinese tourists are provided with guiding placards in Chinese.
Abdullah pointed out that a large number of the hotels' staff will be given Chinese language courses for better communications with the tourists, highlighting that he was talking with the Chinese cultural consular in Egypt for arranging the courses in the province.
"We want 1 percent of Chinese tourists heading overseas every year," Abdullah said, noting that more than 100 million Chinese tourists visit different destinations annually.
He said the Chinese tourists are "familiar with Egypt the same way that China is familiar with Egyptians."
However, he pointed out that the tourism sector in Egypt has not been fully recovered after the political turmoil that caused the ouster of two former presidents and the chaos and insecurity it created afterwards.
"Tourism in the Red Sea resorts has not yet reached the level where it was before 2011 uprising," he added.
Tourism is a cornerstone of Egypt's economy, a major source of income for millions of citizens and foreign exchange. But the sector suffered severely in the years following 2011's popular uprising and was further hampered by a spate of militant attacks.
In a devastating blow to the already struggling sector, Russia had halted all flights to Egypt, and Britain stopped flights to Sinai after an Islamist militant bomb attack brought down a Russian passenger plane in October 2015, killing all on board.
Egypt's revenues from tourism saw a year-on-year increase of 77 percent in the first half of 2018 to reach 4.8 billion U.S. dollars, while the number of tourists arriving in the country increased by 41 percent to just over 5 million. A total of 14.7 million people visited Egypt in 2010 before the uprising.
Abdullah expected the return of the Russian tourists very soon after a recent visit of delegations from Moscow to the Red Sea airports.
Indicators suggest the sector will earn about 9 billion dollars by the end of this year, according to a recent statement of the Tourism Ministry, which added a greater tourism flow was expected from Italy, Germany and Ukraine towards the end of 2018.
The figure, if realized, would mark a jump from last year's 7.6 billion dollars, the statement added.
Egypt ranks first as the most visited tourist destination in Africa by Chinese tourists, according to the "2018 Chinese Citizens Africa Tourism Report" released by CYTS Travel Network.