Photo: Anadolu Agency
Photo: Anadolu Agency

Cairo, 1 Rabiul Akhir 1437/11 January 2016 (MINA) –  Experts believe the recent attack on an Egyptian resort city frequented by tourists brings new challenges to an already struggling tourism industry in the Arab world’s most populous country.

Unidentified assailants had stormed a hotel in the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada on Friday, killing a security guard and wounding four people, including three Swedish nationals and one Austrian, Anadolu Agency reported.

This was the second attack within a week on foreign nationals in the country; the first was on a bus carrying Israeli nationals near a hotel in Giza.

“The armed attacks against a number of Egyptian hotels within the last week will negatively impact the influx of tourists to the country,”Majdi Saleh, former chairman of the chamber of Egyptian tourism companies in the Red Sea region, told Anadolu Agency.

Hotel occupancy rates in Hurghada were only 30 percent during the Christmas season, even before the attack, Saleh added.

“Recovery prospects in the Egyptian tourism sector during 2016 have become weak after this incident,” Khairy Mohammed, chairman of the chamber of Egyptian tourism companies in Aswan, said.

Mohammed expected several countries to issue travel warnings advising citizens to stay away from Hurghada.

The Egyptian tourism sector was hit hard last year after the downing of a Russian plane in Sinai left more than 200 people dead.

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou said losses following the Russian plane incident amounted to more than $280 million.

Tourism is one of Egypt’s biggest employers and foreign currency earners.

The tourism industry accounted for nearly 13 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product in 2014, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Travel and tourism also provided nearly 12 percent of Egypt’s jobs last year. (T/P010/R04)

Miraj Islamic News Agency (MINA)