EGYPT. Seven years after the Luxor massacre killed 58 people and pushed the Egyptian economy into recession, authorities are hoping that last week’s attacks in the resort areas of Sinai do not cause long term damage to the vital tourism industry.
Tourism is Egypt’s major foreign income stream, creating US$4.4 billion of revenue last year. During the first six months of 2004 inbound visitor numbers nearly doubled to around 4.5 million.
Local reports said that authorities were hopeful that the highly-localised nature of the attacks – targeted at Israeli holiday-makers – would limit wider damage to the country’s tourism industry. But others weren’t convinced. “This is a disaster for Egypt,” Dia Rashwan, an expert on Islamist groups at Cairo’s Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, told the Financial Times.
One company with a close interest in the situation is Aer Rianta International-Middle East (ARI-ME), which in July signed a management consultancy contract to run duty free shops in Egypt in partnership with Egyptair Duty Free Shops.
The seven-year contract involves the upgrading of Egyptair Duty Free Shops’ operations, including Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Luxor Airports. In addition it will establish a new 2,000sq m post-arrivals duty free shop at the new City Stars Retail & Entertainment Complex in the affluent Heliopolis area of Cairo.
“Obviously the situation is going to have an effect,” ARI-ME Managing Director John Sutcliffe told The Moodie Report. “But you must appreciate the geography of this. Where it happened down in Sinai is not on the mainstream Egyptian holiday line, which is further down the coast of the Red Sea – in places like Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. They’re quite a long way away from what happened.
“This happened in a specific region bordering Israel and it was a specific issue. I’m not saying it was a small issue – it was horrific – but it was isolated. So we’ll have to wait and see over the coming weeks how it impacts business. But if the government handles it ok it should be alright.
“People in general realize that nowadays wherever you travel you could be in danger of being caught up in something like this. It could happen in New York or London or any place. You either stay at home or appreciate that it could happen. That’s what changing now – people are saying “˜we just have to get on with life’.”
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