A boy sits on his camel awaiting tourists at the Giza Pyramids near Cairo. Officials claim 75 per cent of tourists to Egypt visit Sharm Al Shaikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Egypt's Ministry of Tourism hopes to see a recovery in tourist numbers to between 12 and 13 million this year, bringing in $11 billion (Dh40 billion), despite ongoing street violence and more than 70 deaths after a football match riot last week.

Last year's popular uprising, which forced out President Hosni Mubarak, brought much of Egypt's economy to a halt, slashed tourism revenue and prompted overseas warnings against visiting its Red Sea and Mediterranean holiday destinations.

"The future of tourism in Egypt will be great," Samy Mahmoud, undersecretary of Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and head of the International Tourism Sector, told Reuters in an interview in Dubai.

"By the end of 2012, we expect between 12 to 13 million tourists. The contribution to the economy will be around $11 billion."

2011 data unavailable

He said figures from last year were not yet available, but added that 15.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, adding around $12.5 billion to the economy.

Cairo, home to the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the 14th century Khan El Khalili market, was rocked again on Sunday by protesters demanding a swift presidential election and an early handover of power by the army. They hurled rocks at police guarding the Interior Ministry and were forced back with volleys of tear gas. "Seventy-five per cent of total tourist arrivals to Egypt are going to Sharm Al Shaikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam. These places are very safe. Only about 25 per cent are coming to Cairo," he said.

Mahmoud said he expected rising visitor numbers from Russia, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the Gulf Arab region.

A senior assistant to the tourism minister said in December that Egypt expected to earn about $9 billion from tourism in 2011, down by about a third on a year earlier.

With its pharaonic antiquities and year-round warm beaches, Egypt relies on tourism as its top foreign currency earner, source of over a tenth of gross domestic product. It provides one in eight jobs in a country beset by high unemployment.

On Thursday, fans rioted after a match in Port Said when the local team Al Masry beat Al Ahli. At least 74 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Asked about what the authorities could do to convince tourists that Egypt was safe, Mahmoud said: "By the end of June, we will have a president and a strong government. This will boost tourism in Egypt."

The military council, which took charge when former President Mubarak was toppled by a popular uprising on February 11, has promised to hand power to civilians by the end of June after an election.

The Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party secured almost half the seats in the first election since Mubarak's ouster, is now under pressure to use its newly won parliamentary power to help restore order.

Asked whether he thought Egypt's new government was doing enough to promote tourism, Mahmoud said: "Of course. We have good security and a good system. Tourism will be the future for the economy of Egypt."