In light of the recent lapse in security, and the consequent plummeting of Egypt’s barely-recovering tourism industry, Daily News Egypt spoke with media representatives from various countries about their current views on Egypt, and whether or not they would consider Egypt as their next travel destination.
A journalist from Algeria, who requested anonymity, said the Russian plane crash was the last thing she heard on Egypt in the news. The incident removed all thought of visiting Egypt from her mind, she noted.
On 31 October, a Russian Metrojet A321 passenger plane, en route to St. Petersburg from Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh Airport, crashed in Sinai 30 minutes after takeoff, killing all 224 persons on board, mainly Russians.
“The incident scared me, especially because Sharm El-Sheikh is a touristic destination, and the area has always been safe. Terrorism couldn’t have possibly reached it before,” said the Algerian journalist.
Other media personnel expressed their fears of being treated differently because they are not Muslim. Nigerian journalist Dayo Oketola said: “If I were planning a vacation, Egypt would not be on my list because of the fact that Egypt is largely an Islamic state and I am not a Muslim.”
“Also, because of the Arab Spring and the aftermath in Egypt, I do not have the assurance that Egypt is now ready for visitors like us,” he elaborated.
Further, he said he would avoid coming to Egypt to dodge any occurrence that might hamper his security.
In spite of hotels offering discounted prices in various areas in Egypt, Sharm El-Sheikh included, this has not encouraged any more visits. Hona Nwachukwu, an editor from Nigeria, said she would not even consider going to Egypt in the foreseeable future.
“It is not a case of just Egypt, anywhere in the world seems to be chaotic. For instance, right now I would not dream of going to Paris,” she elaborated.
At least 130 people were reportedly killed in a series of attacks by gunmen and bombers on restaurants, a concert hall and a sports stadium at different locations across Paris on 13 November. Around 200 people were injured, including 80 who are in critical condition, according to French media.
Another journalist from Kenya claimed that the way Kenyans view Egypt is quite different from the West, as the country is already facing its toll of attacks from groups such as Al-Shabab. “I know that in Western countries, due to the exaggeration of the media, people could feel that they would die once they step into the airports of Kenya or Egypt,” she said.
Despite the similarities, the Kenyan journalist would not consider visiting Egypt in the near future due to the instability, and because of the Russian plane as well as “Islamic State” attacks in Sinai. “I would like to go [to Egypt] sometime, however. But now I have to be extremely cautious,” she indicated.
UK national Paschorina Tedjame, who works in Public Relations in Ghana, did not have the same fears about visiting Egypt. She said she is ready to go to Egypt despite being advised not to.
“Last year, my family and I were booking tickets to Egypt but we were advised not to go. The British embassy gave us the same advice as well, so we did not go,” she said.
Tedjame, however, later spoke to Egyptians living in Ghana who clarified that the media is blowing incidents out of proportion. “I now understand that certain areas are affected, but the majority of the country is safe.”
Tedjame said she will plan her next vacation for Egypt, whilst taking advice from locals living in the country about places she should avoid.
Nonetheless, the tourism industry is ailing in the country, and with the Christmas season and New Year approaching, hotels and travel agencies could be highly disappointed as tourists seem to be avoiding travel to Egypt due to the current circumstances.
Several incidents are negatively affecting tourism, and only time will tell whether travellers are able to overcome their fears and biases and venture a trip to Egypt, or if the situation will remain the same or worsen even further.