Following a five-year halt of direct flights between Egyptian tourist hot-spot Luxor and Japan, direct flights are now recommencing with the first batch of Japanese tourists landing in Luxor on Saturday evening, the Cairo Post reports.
The 230 tourists, who took off from Japan’s Kansai Airport located near Osaka, are scheduled to visit Luxor’s archaeological sites and other locations of interest for foreigners during their three-day visit.
Luxor airport will receive weekly flights from Japan during one month, with that number doubling in October to two flights a week, according to the head of public relations at Luxor Airport Bekhit Khairi.
Direct flights between Japan and Egypt were halted following the 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak and caused widespread instability in the country.
Egypt’s tourism industry, a vital source of foreign currency and a cornerstone of the economy, is still struggling from the 2011 unrest that scared away tourists and foreign investors.
Since then, a number of other incidents have worsened the state of tourism in the country.
In October last year, a Russian passenger plane crashed over the Sinai Peninsula killing all 224 people on-board. An affiliate to the self-proclaimed Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the crash, saying that it had planted a bomb on board the aircraft.
The image of Egypt as one of the world’s foremost tourist destinations has also been damaged by the murder of Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni. The student disappeared on January 25 only to be found dead some 10 days later in a Cairo ditch with torture marks covering his body. Human rights groups say the signs of torture on his body resemble methods used by Egypt’s security forced, something Egyptian authorities forcefully deny.
Furthermore, in September last year 12 Mexican tourists were accidentally killed by security forces who reportedly mistook them for militants.
As a result, tourism revenues have sharply fallen which has reduced Egypt’s foreign currency reserves. According to the Ministry of Tourism, Egypt’s tourism revenues fell by 15 percent in 2015 and the number of incoming tourists declined by 6 percent