Tourism is one of the leading sources of income, crucial to Egypts economy. At its peak in 2010 the sector employed about 12% of Egypts workforce serving approximately 14.7 million visitors Egypt, and providing revenues of nearly $12.5 billion. as well as contributing more than 11% of GDP and 14.4% of foreign currency revenues.

The number of tourists in Egypt stood at 0.1 million in 1951. Tourism became an important sector of the economy from 1975 onwards, as Egypt eased visa restrictions for almost all European and North American countries and established embassies in new countries like Austria, Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. In 1976, tourism was a focal point of the Five Year Plan of the Government, where 12% of the budget was allocated to upgrading state-owned hotels, establishing a loan fund for private hotels, and upgrading infrastructure (including road, rail, and air connectivity) for major tourist centers along the coastal areas. In 1979, tourism experts and advisors were brought in from Turkey and several new colleges were established with Turkish help between 1979 and 1981, to teach diploma courses in hospitality and tourism management. The tourist inflow increased to 1.8 million in 1981 and then to 5.5 million in 2000. Tourism reached a pinnacle in 2010 by reaching 14.7 million visitors.[Revenues from tourism also reached a high point at $12.5 billion in 2010. Since then the number of tourists has significantly declined (down to 9.5 million in 2013) and revenue down to $5.9 billion due to security threats and civil unrest.

Significant security threats have had an ongoing effect on the industry over the past twenty years.[when?] Fifty-eight foreign tourists were killed in the 1997 Luxor massacre. The industry was also affected by the September 11, 2001, attacks in the eastern United States, the 2004 Sinai bombings, April 2005 Cairo terrorist attacks, the July 23, 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks, and the 2006 Dahab bombings. Militants have typically been motivated by a combination of Qutbism and opposition to the Mubarak government, therefore attacking foreigners who are generally non-Muslims while diminishing tourist industry income was seen as serving both agendas.