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Red Sea attack 'could hit British tourist numbers in Egypt'

Published 09/01/2016

Abta says Egypt has suffered a
Abta says Egypt has suffered a "significant drop-off" in tourism after a series of terror attacks

British tourism in Egypt could suffer a slump following the latest terror attack at a Red Sea resort, an expert has warned.

Three European tourists were stabbed by two suspected Islamic State militants who attacked a hotel in Hurghada late on Friday.

It is the latest in a series of terror attacks in Egypt and comes less than three months after a Russian jet flying from Sharm el Sheikh exploded, killing all 224 people aboard.

Sean Tipton of Abta, the association of travel agents and tour operators, said Egypt has already suffered a "significant drop-off" in tourism in the wake of terror attacks.

He warned that the stabbings could further damage the industry.

He told the Press Association: "We have already seen quite a big drop-off in business to Egypt. We saw that after the Arab Spring, not because people were being attacked but because people had a general worry about demonstrations etc.

"Bookings started to pick up again a couple of years after the Arab Spring. But with what has happened in Sharm el Sheikh Airport and yesterday's attack it doesn't encourage people to travel to that destination.

"But I will say that British holidaymakers are very resilient. In other countries it takes very little for them to stop travelling to a destination."

Some 1,500 British tourists are estimated to be in Hurghada, which is one of the most popular Red Sea resorts with British tourists after Sharm el Sheikh.

The Foreign Office has not changed its travel advice and tour operators are still travelling to the area.

Mr Tipton said tourism is important to the Egyptian economy and the country has high levels of security to protect holidaymakers.

He said: "One of the reasons why the British Foreign Office has not advised against travel to the Red Sea resorts is because of the fact that Egyptians do have very high levels of security.

"They have advised against travel through the airport at Sharm el Sheik but they haven't advised against travel to the resort itself.

"Egyptians do take security incredibly seriously, but I think incidents like this show how important that is."

Egyptian tourism minister Hisham Zaazou visited the three injured tourists and vowed to beef up security at the resort in the wake of the attack.

He said: "I have just visited the three victims involved in the incident and am relieved they were not seriously hurt and will be released from hospital today. I conveyed my deepest regrets for what they went through last night.

"Unfortunately there is an active global challenge with many incidents in recent days and months throughout the world. The authorities in Hurghada acted very quickly and very effectively to deal with the local agitators whose goal was to further harm the tourism sector which is so important to Egypt's economy.

"Over the coming days we will announce even greater security measures to safeguard all tourists visiting Egypt. This follows the recent important announcement concerning the appointment of the international risk and security company Control Risks to assist us further to enhance airport security.

"The welfare of the tourists visiting Egypt is of the greatest importance to us and will continue to be so. No stone will be left unturned to ensure their security despite the global challenges we have witnessed in cities throughout the world."

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