Sinai attacks harm Red Sea tourism

Sinai attacks harm Red Sea tourism

Ehab Abdel Aal, secretariat of chamber of tourist companies, said that the influx of tourists was on hold after 30 June, especially in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh and Aswan. (AFP Photo)

Ehab Abdel Aal, secretariat of chamber of tourist companies, said that the influx of tourists was on hold after 30 June, especially in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh and Aswan.
(AFP Photo)

Instability and dozens of attacks following the 30 June protests and 3 July ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi have harmed Egypt’s already struggling tourism sector which employs about 2.83 million professionals.

“Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan are the cities which suffer from the lowest turnout of tourists,” said a member in the Chamber of Tourism companies, Mohanad Saleh, adding that in the last two years, occupancy in Sharm El-Sheikh’s resorts has been better than other cities, despite Rafah attacks in 2011 and 2012.

In the first days following 30 June, Sinai saw 39 terrorist attacks, as clashes broke out between armed groups and security forces, with causalities reaching 58.

On Friday a group of unknown armed militants carried out a series of attacks at night in Al-Arish, capital of North Sinai, resulting in the death of two civilians, with an additional three injured, two of whom are soldiers.

Ehab Abdel Aal, secretariat of chamber of tourist companies, said that the influx of tourists was on hold after 30 June, especially in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh and Aswan.

Abdel Aal emphasised that violence and frequent attacks in Sinai affected tourism in the whole region; however tourism in Hurgada city, which is one of the most popular sites in Egypt, so far has not been affected.

“Occupancy rates in Sharm El-Sheikh slid to 20 % compared to 50 %,” said Abdel Aal.

Both North and South Sinai had been unaffected by the street upheavals, but they felt the crisis after the latest attacks in Sinai and spreading bloodshed, said Hani El-Saher, deputy head of hotels chamber.

El-Saher asserted that there more than 35 % of reservations were cancelled on the eve of 30 June protests and there are no new bookings.

Abdel Aal believes that 2014 will be a fruitful year for tourism; given that after any three years of a downgrade, there should be a rebound.

“Moreover, tourism officials, news agencies and hotel officials are in talks with their counterparts across many nations abroad to promote Egypt’s tourism, and they are organising a number of reservations,” said Abdel Aal.

El-Saher, however, did not expect a strong rebound in 2014, saying: “Egypt is used to recovering after any three years of decline, but it not possible for this to take place as long as violence is spreading in the streets.”

Speaking to MENA, the president of Egypt’s Union for Tourism Chambers, Elhamy El-Zayat, said: “The touristic institutions are no longer working regularly and are suffering a lot over the last three years, which makes the sector unable to pay loans and workers salaries.”

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