A public beach in Alexandria. The Marsa Matrouh area, close to Alexandria, which presently has 500,000 residents living in simple brick houses, has been marked for development thanks to its natural landscape. Image Credit: Rex Features

Cairo : Egypt's tourism industry is expected to profit greatly from the development of the northern Egyptian town of Marsa Matrouh, an area close to the seaside resort of Alexandria.

The area, which presently has 500,000 residents living in simple brick houses, has been marked for development thanks to its natural landscape, the turquoise-coloured ocean and white and silky sand.

The district received over six million tourists during the busy summer season of June to September last year. The same numbers are expected during the summer of 2010.

The $4 million Marsa Matrouh development includes 29 projects aimed at accommodating up to 30 million tourists. The projects include hotels and recreation facilities such as safaris and tours of cultural landmarks.

One of the projects involves the building of a new Greek district complete with the planting of olive trees over a large area. The produce is expected to be exported.

Also to be built is the University of California, which is expected to receive up to 3,000 students from the Middle East.

According to Ahmad Hussain, Governor of Marsa Matrouh, "the project will help us bring in over $10 million (Dh36.7 million) worth of investments to Egypt, and will create more than 61,000 job opportunities."

Samy Mahmoud, Undersecretary of the International Tourism Sector in Egypt, said 12.5 million tourists visited Egypt in 2009, generating $11 million in revenues.

"We currently have up to 20 million tourists from the Arab world. By 2014, Egypt is is expected to receive 16 million tourists a year, generating revenue of up to $30 million. By the end of 2020, we aim to attract over 25 million tourists."