Sporadic attacks target Egypt tourism

10 January 2016

Three incidents across Egypt in four days

Three foreign tourists were attacked in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Hurghada on 9 January.

One of the two attackers, who entered the Bella Vista hotel, was killed while the other was injured, according to security officials in the Red Sea area.

No tourists were killed, although two Austrian visitors and one Swedish tourist were injured in the attacks.

No one has taken responsibility for the attacks, but local reports have suggested the assailants were working for Sinai Province, which is affiliated to the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) and has taken responsibility for several attacks targeting Egypt’s tourism sector in the recent months.

Egypt has witnessed a number of sporadic attacks targeting security staff in tourist areas over the past week.

Soon after the Hurghada attack, two police officers were gunned down in the Pyramid area near Cairo.

Although no group claimed responsibility for the attack on the police officers, Isis did claim responsibility for an assault that was directed at security forces and tourists, carried out by a lone gunman outside a Cairo hotel on 7 January. Security sources said the tourists targeted were Israeli Arabs and there were no casualties.

The recent attacks serve as the latest blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which has taken a major hit in recent months following the Metrojet crash on 31 October, which British and Russian officials have said was downed by a bomb planted on board.

Tourism serves as one of Egypt’s biggest contributors of foreign currency. The sector also makes up a large portion of the country’s labour market, with the government often dependant on the sector’s growth to ensure both economic improvement and political stability.

Tourism contributed $16.5bn to Egypt’s economy in 2014, making up 12.8 per cent of GDP. The dramatic fall in the number of people visiting the country and its iconic attractions has dented Egypt’s tourism ambitions.

The government is targeting 20 million visitors by 2020. In 2010, the country attracted 14.7 million tourists, but by 2014, this number stood at just 9.9 million.

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