Monday, November 9, 2015

News: Egyptians Promote Sinai Tourism amid Evacuations

Foreign tourists enjoy the sunny weather at the beach of
the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh
CAIRO: Initiatives calling Egyptians to visit the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have recently surfaced, trying to attract attention to the city that is currently witnessing thousands of evacuations of European holidaymakers.

In Oct.31, a Russian plane crashed over Sinai killing all 224 passengers and crew aboard. The crash, despite still being investigated, had significantly impacted the tourism movement in the resort city in the southern tip of Egypt’s Peninsula.

Over the past days, at least seven countries decided to suspend their flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, the city from which the ill-fated jet departed enroute to St. Petersburg City in Russia.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed it downed the jet in retaliation to Russian strikes in Syria, while western intelligence indicated the flight was targeted by a bomb on board, based on noise heard on cockpit recorder, according to finding by the investigating committee.

Both Egyptian and Russian officials cautioned from premature indications about the cause of the crisis. Investigations are being carried out by a 47-member committee formed of Egyptian and international experts from Russia, Germany, France and Ireland.

The promoting campaigns called on Egyptian families who can afford spending vacations in tourist cities in the country to do so in support of Egypt’s tourism. A hashtag translated to “Going to Sharm el-Sheikh” has gone viral on social media, sharing pictures of the Red Sea resort with Egyptians carrying signs that read “We are safe here in Sharm.”

“Your Sons Are Your Support, Egypt” is a campaign that is expected to be launched by Egyptian expatriates in the United Arab Emirates in support of Egyptian tourism, according to pictures of the initiative Facebook page sent to Youm7 newspaper.

Further, Kuwaitis reportedly created a hashtag “I am with Egypt” in solidarity with Egyptian people, launching an electronic campaign describing the beauty of Sharm el-Sheikh city during winter season. The campaign called for standing against what it described as “conspiracy” targeting Egypt’s economy.

Tourism in Sharm El-Sheikh
Holidaymakers from Russia and Britain make up most of the occupancy at hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh;  their announcements to suspend flights was considered as a “disaster,” Youm7 quoted Karim el-Sharqawi, a manager of a hotel in the Red Sea resort.

There are some 79,000 Russian tourists in Egypt; around 11,000 of them have been evacuated from Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in the past 24 hours, RIA news agency reported.

Occupancy at Sharm el-Sheikh hotels reached 63 percent Saturday, while in Hurghada, it recorded 70 percent, according to Abdel Fatah el-Assy, head of Hotels Monitoring department at the Ministry of Tourism as quoted by Youm7 Sunday. He said that the impact of the evacuations and reservation cancellations will be estimated by the next week.

International passengers are lined up at airport waiting for departure. On the other hand, news reports said that hundreds of tourist groups from Germany, Italy and Russia have arrived to spend the holiday in both cities of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.

Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou said, in TV show statements, that this crisis is not the first of its kind to face Egypt. He also cited collaborated efforts between ministries to support internal holidays by Egyptians, noting that a reduction to bus tickets for Sharm el-Sheikh will be applied.
Source: Cairo Post– By/ Nourhan Magdi

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