From a tourist point of view, prior to January of 2011 there was a thriving Egypt Tourism business, it died instantly with the demonstrations and Government Travel Warnings. There are a few tourists returning, but most of the Travel Warnings are still in place even though demonstrations are not affecting the tourist sites. The inquiries start to build back up and as soon there is negative media again on the TV the inquiries drop and those in process cancel.
Many of the Tourism Business, Hotels, Nile Cruises, and even the camel vendors offering rides at the Pyramids have suffered drastically. Many not even able to feed their animals. Egypt was and is dependent to a large extent on the Tourism Business. It will return when Egypt stays out of the negative media, but for now it has devastated the industry completely.
The tourist industry hired a large % of the population and now these people are out of work, some have gone out of business, and many struggle to feed their families. Unemployment especially among the young people is the highest is has ever been, and people struggle daily just to feed their families. Egyptians in general are innovative, wonderful people, warm and hospitable, and it is sad to see them suffering.
Mubarak’s autocratic rule controlled everything including the media and TV, and the average person was living on less than $2 a day. There wasn’t a day go by when Mubaraks face wasn’t plastered in the papers and TV telling the population how wonderful (he thought) he was.
Corruption in Egypt was rampant, its still there but now most of the Ministers have gone it has become easier to open a business. Previously you basically paid under the counter for anything you wanted to do with the government. It’s not as prevalent as it was – previously to open a business and get the necessary licenses you had to know someone to get to the Minister and then needed to pay the Minister a large fee in order to get approval for the license, then pay under the counter down the line to get it processed and activated. Now many small businesses are popping up all over the place taking advantage of the fact that the old guard is gone and before any new rules come into place.
In the wake of the revolution we feel that Tourism will return as there is a pent up interest in Egypt, but it will take the halt of negative media to bring it back. Yes the demonstrations where awful with the hired thugs and security police attacking the peaceful demonstrators, but these where limited to specific areas in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, and in general the rest of Egypt moves on with everyday life. Those tourists who have returned are enjoying the uncrowded sites.
I am convinced that most of the situations like the attack on the Israeli Embassy, and the attacks on the Coptic Churches where staged events in an attempt by the old guard to create fear and bad relations and in order to have an excuse to bring back Marshall law, which they reinstated immediately after these events.
People forget that there are 18 million people in Cairo so even a 100,000 people in the square is still a small number in comparison. When you consider that Egypt has 80 million people restricted to areas along the Nile and coast away from the desert, and that it is only the size on one of the Provinces of Canada or one US State and when by comparison you consider that Canada has 33 million people across Canada it helps to put it in better perspective.
The elections although welcomed have been difficult as Political Parties were not allowed to form under the old regime, meaning that once the old regimen was overthrown they had little time to get organized into the necessary political groups to really put forth the proper programs and people they actually need to run the country efficiently. Once a new Civilian Government is in place it is generally felt that with time there is hope for the future and that business opportunities will start to come with foreign investments.
Basically Egypt has always had a dual monetary system, one price for Egyptians and another much higher price for foreigners. I understand in general that they need new money to come in to help them build, but imposing high taxes on foreign investors is not the way to build. Hopefully the new Government when in place will look at foreign investments as a way to help unemployment and opportunities for growth. Only time will tell.