Tourists visit a market in Luxor, Egypt, Dec. 16, 2020. Tourism in Egypt's monument-rich Luxor city, one of the world's most renowned tourist attractions, has been struggling since the flow of Chinese tourists stopped earlier this year in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
LUXOR, Egypt, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- Tourism in Egypt's monument-rich Luxor city, one of the world's most renowned tourist attractions, has been struggling since the flow of Chinese tourists stopped earlier this year in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Over the past few years, large numbers of Chinese tourists visited Luxor and have become the favorite customers for people working in the tourism sector in the city," Mohammed Hassan, owner of an antique and souvenir shop at Luxor's old market, told Xinhua.
The middle-aged man noted that most of the business owners relied heavily on the Chinese tourists, who used to spend big amounts of money when shopping and visiting the city's archaeological sites.
"Chinese tourists love Luxor because it embraces many archaeological sites ... They also prefer its unique weather and beautiful landscape," Hassan said.
According to Egypt's official statistics, China has been the fourth largest source of tourists to Egypt since the beginning of 2017. In 2018, more than half a million Chinese tourists visited Egypt, according to the Chinese Embassy in Egypt.
Egypt, which has so far registered 127,972 COVID-19 cases and 7,209 deaths, resumed international flights in early July after it lifted a partial curfew that had been in place since late March, and reopened restaurants, cafes, theaters, cinemas and hotels, all with limited capacity.
It also reopened Luxor's archeological sites, hotels and museums for tourists from the beginning of September, after the daily new COVID-19 cases remarkably went down in the North African country.
"Despite the resumption of flights, the numbers of foreign tourists currently coming to the city are not large enough and we have not seen any Chinese tourists at all since February," Hassan said.
"We want the return of Chinese tourists. Their return will breathe life into our business," he added.
Not far away from Hassan's shop, Kareem Ismail, owner of a clothing shop, stood in front of his small shop in anticipation of customers.
"This market used to buzz with Chinese tourists before the outbreak of coronavirus. For me, Chinese tourists are the best because they simply buy many," Ismail told Xinhua.
Chinese tourists visit every corner in the city, he said, "which means they will spend more money."
Mohammed Othman, chairman of the committee for marketing cultural tourism in Upper Egypt, said the halt of Chinese tourists to Egypt has impacted the country's tourism industry, which saw a revival in recent years thanks to the large inflows of them.
"Luxor received about 2.5 million tourists in 2019, 285,000 of whom were Chinese," Othman told Xinhua, expecting tourism activities in the Egyptian city to rebound by April next year.
"China has already started to give anti-COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens and millions of Chinese will be vaccinated by spring, which means thousands of them may visit Egypt," he said.