Egypt's tourist industry takes another blow

The World
Updated on
Tourists enjoy the beach at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

Tourists enjoy the beach at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

 REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

For Egypt and its tourism industry, the crash of a Russian aircraft couldn't have come at a worse time.

On Saturday, a Russian Airbus A321 crashed shortly after takeoff from the Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board. The investigtion continues and while there have been terrorist claims of responsibility, government officials have offered little official information.

Representatives from nearly 50 Egyptian hotels and travel agencies were in London on Monday to promote their country's attractions at the World Travel show.

It wasn't an easy pitch, even before the plane crash.

"The last four years ... have not been good on the tourism front,"  says Laura Dean, a Middle East correspondent with the Global Post. "Revenues are down 95 percent ... And one of nine Egyptians works in the tourism industry."

In September Egyptian police killed a group of Mexican tourists after mistaking the victims for terrorists. And then came Saturday's disaster. 

The resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh is a popular tourist destination for Russian tourists says Dean. It generally has been regarded as a safe part of the country free from the political upheavals and terrorist attacks plaguing Egypt.

What will happen to Egypt's tourism after this weekend's crash?

"I think it's likely in the short term we'll see less people coming to the area," says Dean. “We're already seeing carriers like Lufthansa, Air France and the Emirates avoiding flying over the Sinai Peninsula until the cause of the crash is determined."