Thursday, August 29, 2013

Egypt & Tourism

During training today with my co-workers I met an older lady that share a common love of travel with me. We talked about the amazing places we have been to and some of the places we wish we could go to.  My older co-worker was telling me that a week before the chaos in Egypt started she and her family went on vacation. She went on to say how beautiful that country is and how much of a shame it is that she probably will never have the chance to safely travel there for several years to come. Ironically enough, I come home from training and found an informative article about Egypt and tourism. I've copied and paste the article by Laura Dean below, so please check it out.

By Laura Dean

SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT -- There’s nothing like being on the brink of civil war to turn a nation’s hottest tourist destinations into ghost towns.
It should be high season for this famed Red Sea Resort town, which is beloved by Europeans but more known in the U.S. as the site of several failed peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Indeed, tourists from Scandinavia, Russia and the U.K, usually clog the towns’ glittering casinos and dance clubs. Visitors marvel at the luxury hotels and come from near and far for its stunning scuba diving.
Not now.
At least nowhere the numbers shop owners and travel organizers are used to.
The military ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first popularly elected president in post –revolution Egypt, has infuriated his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood and led to running battles in the streets of Cairo and the north Sinai.
Sharm el Sheik, in south Sinai and in part due to extraordinary security sent itsway, has been spared the violence but suffers empty beaches and vacant hotels.                                                                                                        
While the rest of the country rushes home at sunset to make it in time for the 7pmcurfew, in Sharm el Sheikh, bar owners stand outside their establishments to drum up business.  
Abu Hassan Yestawi, a 28-year-old shop owner from the southern Egyptian town of Aswan,  says he is very scared, for the country’ economic health.Speaking for shop owners, he says, “no one buys anymore than he has to” from the large warehouse outside of town.
Egypt  blames the problem on  perception.
Fearful of lawsuits, some European tour companies, are practically bribing customerswith a 120% refund to just stay home, infuriating Egyptian tourism czars whohave asked severa1 European nations to actually encourage travel to this most ancient of lands, where the LA Times says 1 of every 8 people make their money from the industry.
The tourists who are here though, conscious of the difficult times in whichEgyptians find themselves, are eager to share their positive experiences.
“You’veonly got to look at us to see we’re getting color and are enjoying it,” saidSylvia Sherin, a 75-year-old British tourist visiting Sharm el Sheikh for thesecond time.
Workers report that most of the foreign tourists here have been to the Red Sea beforeand understand that it is an isolated haven away from the frightening images ofthe capital.

Sherin said she had to reassure many family members and friends in advance ofher trip though. Her itinerary had originally included a tour of the Valley ofthe Kings and St. Katherine’s monastery, but she and her family decided tolimit it to the Red Sea for security reasons.
Tourism,an industry that used to account for 11 percent of GDP, has been in decline inEgypt since the uprisings in January of 2011 that led to the ouster of then-PresidentHosni Mubarak.
While stability, and more importantly for Sharm, the perception of it, has notreturned to Egypt, one thing that has, is the police. Reporting for this piecewas cut short by a brief detention by the tourist police. In his office ColonelAhmed asked if, in America, one could you just go around and take photos without a permit? He seemed to think it was a rhetorical question and was quitedisbelieving when he was told that, yes, you could. Harassment of journalistssince August 14 has occurred at unprecedented levels.
But Susan Burke, a 50-year-old British woman and the niece of Sylvia Sherin,couldn’t say enough about her stay: In the UK, she said “people never have timefor the elderly. But here as soon as they see her (her aunt) they’re rushingover…they can’t do enough for her.”
“I’d like to stay longer than 2 weeks,” Sherin agreed.