Egypt’s tourism industry collapses; ‘Sharm El-Sheikh has become a ghost town’

Special to WorldTribune.com

Egypt is looking to revive its crippled tourism industry by tapping into new markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

During November and December, about 1 million tourists visited Egypt, down 41 percent from 2014 and the lowest number for the peak months since 2005.

Sharm El-Sheikh is scrambling to keep its lucrative tourism sector alive. /Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images
Sharm El-Sheikh is scrambling to keep its lucrative tourism sector alive. /Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images

“The reason for the plummet in tourism is clear, our biggest markets have imposed travel restrictions on Egypt,” said Ahmed Hamdy, vice president of Egypt’s Tourist Authority. “We are trying to tap new markets such as Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Poland, as well as Latin American countries and India and China.”

Tourism plummeted in Egypt after the Oct. 31 terror bombing of a Russian airliner. The industry had already been hit hard by the unrest of 2011 and 2013 and never recovered to the peak year of 2010 when the nation had about 15 million visitors.

“You cannot call what’s happening a drop, it’s a collapse,” said Amani El-Torgoman, board member of the Egyptian Tourism Federation. “There is definitely an overreaction to the plane crash, and it is devastating.”

The ongoing threat of terrorism has created a new security situation that has affected tourist areas that had remained well-traveled even during previous turbulent times, El-Torgoman said.

“After 2011, tourists stopped visiting Cairo, Luxor and Aswan because they were perceived as not secure,” she said. “But beach tourism was doing fine. That too, is now damaged. Sharm El-Sheikh has become a ghost town. It is just sad.”

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