The UN World Tourism Organisation’s (Unwto) secretary-general Taleb Rifai has expressed his confidence of a recovery in Egypt’s tourism sector, stressing the need for the international community to support the sector and the country in order to safeguard growth and stability in the country of 80 million people.

The secretary-general met with Egyptian prime minister Sherif Ismail Mohamed in late-February to discuss measures to boost a tourism recovery. Priority actions included enhancing tourism security, effectively integrating the sector into national risk and emergency management structures, gaining back the confidence of key source markets, and promoting the highest political support for the sector.

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“Egypt has undertaken strong initiatives in terms of communications with the competent authorities and public opinion in source markets on safety and security issues, unlocking the support of airlines and tour operators, incentivising demand and engaging key players in Egypt in these concerted efforts. I trust these actions will herald results in restoring confidence and accelerating the recovery of tourism to Egypt”, Mr Rifai said at Egypt’s Tourism 2016 conference.

Tourism accounts for roughly 12% of employment in Egypt, or roughly 3 million jobs, and has taken a significant blow since the downing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula and other terrorist attacks in the past year. In November 2015, Russia and the UK suspended all flights to Egypt’s tourist hotspot Sharm el Sheikh, resulting in losses of up to $280m per month in cancelled flights.