Tourism prospects in Egypt damaged by sectarianism

Dalia Farouq, Tuesday 10 May 2011

Leading members of the tourism industry voice their pessimism as violence paints an off-putting picture of Egypt


"Give tourism in Egypt a break" was the slogan used by several tourism experts after the violent sectarian attacks in the Giza neighbourhood of Imbaba.

Sami Mahmoud, vice president of the Tourism Development Authority (TDA), pointed out that Egyptian tourism is yet to recover after the January 25 Revolution. The subsequent cutting back of flights to Egypt by most countries, million-man marches, destruction of the Atfeeh Church, sectarian violence first in Qena and now in Imbaba have all contributed to the dwindling number of tourists coming to Egypt.

He added that without security and stability, tourism will not be able to recover or compete with other destinations. "Why would a tourist decide to come to Egypt with all of these events happening when they can go to many other countries that are more secure?" he asked.

Elhamy El Zayat, head of the Egyptian Chamber of Tourism, added that "these incidents are killing Egyptian tourism. The news of these events which can be found in all media outlets across the world create a great obstacle against reviving Egyptian tourism. We had expected, for example, that after Russia lifted its travel ban, we would see Russian tourists flooding back to Egypt. This has not happened."

The head of the tourism committee within the Businessman’s Association, Ahmed Balbaa, said that despite the Red Sea being far from these events, the fact that they happen in Egypt affects the decisions of those responsible for tourism in other countries. Balbaa added that even though no country has a travel ban on Egypt and prices remain low, the sector is at 50 per cent of its regular activitiy.

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