Egypt to shut hotels if staff sexually harass tourists: Tourism minister

Bassem Abo Alabass, Sunday 5 May 2013

Tough penalties to be imposed after travel agencies raise concerns about sexual harassment of tourists by hotel staff in Egypt

 sexual harassment
The Red Seas resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in happier and more prosperous times (Photo: Reuters)

Hotels will be closed if staff are found to have sexually harassed tourists, Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou has said.

“Foreign travel agents have complained about the inappropriate behavior of some hotel staff towards tourists,” Zaazou told Al-Hayat 2 private satellite channel on Saturday. “They threaten to remove Egypt from their list of tourist destinations.”

Zaazou told Ahram Online on Sunday that he would meet with members of the Egyptian Hotels Association to discuss the move.

“I am determined to close hotels where sexual harassment has taken place because this behavior has an impact on the country's reputation,” Zaazou asserted.

The tourism ministry has recorded 150 cases of sexual harassment against tourists over the last two years. There have also been three recorded rapes in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

Around 4 million Egyptians work in the tourism sector, according to official data.

Last week, the Red Sea city of Hurghada saw the opening of a no-alcohol resort – the first of its kind in the area, according to state media – and an entire floor was reserved for women only.

Tourism, an important driver of Egypt's economy, has suffered dramatically due to political unrest since the 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. Numbers are still down from the sector’s peak in 2010 when an estimated 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt, generating $12.5 billion in revenue.

Around 11.5 million tourists visited the country in 2012 and generated some $10 billion in revenue. 

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