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No reports of tourists cancelling visits to Egypt after Hurghada knife attack: Tourism minister

Ahram Online , Sunday 16 Jul 2017
General view of the Sunny Days Elpalacio beach in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Hurghada, where an Egyptian stabbed to death two German tourists and injured four others the day before July 15, 2017 AFP

Tourism minister Yehia Rashed said on Saturday that there have been no reports of foreign tourists cancelling trips to Egypt following Friday's deadly knife attack in Hurghada that left two German tourists dead.

Rashed made the comments to TV talk-show host Amr Adib on his programme Kol Youm late on Saturday.

The minister said that his ministry had been in touch with tour operators abroad, including in Germany, and that no cancellations had been reported. The ministry would continue to monitor the situation, he said.

Two German tourists were killed and four others were injured on Friday when a man conducted a knife attack on tourists on a beach. The tourists were staying at a private tourist resort at the Red Sea town of Hurghada.

The assailant, who was arrested after the attack, had swum to the resort from a nearby public beach, according to a short statement from the interior ministry.

The injured were all transferred to Cairo on Saturday, Rashed said.

He said investigations were still underway to determine the nature of the attack, which has not yet been confirmed as a terrorist incident.

The minister's comments on Saturday reflect concerns that acts of violence or terrorism may cause further harm to Egypt's tourism industry.

Tourism visitor numbers dropped dramatically after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board, mostly holidaymakers.

The tourism industry has suffered more generally due to a range of political and security upheavals since a January 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

However, the country saw a 51 percent rise in the number of tourists visiting Egypt during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year, suggesting a revival in the industry's fortunes.

Germany topped the list of visiting tourists during the first three months of 2017, followed by Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Kingdom.

Earlier on Saturday, Egypt's High State Prosecution issued a statement on Friday's attack, saying, "The perpetrator of the attack is being investigated by the prosecution. It has not yet been proven whether this was an individual act, a criminal act, an act of terrorism, or otherwise."

Late on Saturday, the High Information Service (HIS) issued a statement on the incident, saying that there have been "limited" attacks targeting tourists over the past four years.

The fact that the attacker had to swum to the resort points to the tight security measures in place around the permiters of such resorts, the HIS statement said.

"Some sources noted that the two victims are foreigners who are staying in Hurghada, where they work. This will be taken into consideration during investigations regarding the motives behind the attack," said the statement.

"There have been terrorist attacks in other countries, such as France and Belgium, but there was no speculation that these attacks would constitute a threat to tourism in these countries, as some people are trying to suggest in the case of Egypt," the statement concluded.

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