Everything is calm in Sharm El Sheikh. An army of employees of local hotels wanders the quiet streets of Sharm El Sheikh with a somnabulous look. And here are the builders of the dinosaur park: perched in the shade of a 5-meter-high resemblance of a giant diplodocus — do not waste the good. It’s a dull time, and it’s hardly a charm of eyes.
Seething with tourists, the Egyptian resort has long been known as the «city of the world» due to the huge number of international conferences on the settlement of all kinds of crises, today it really begins to justify its middle name.
In recent months, trade has been going neither shaky nor shaky. And who will buy? The most persistent left the resort, unable to withstand the pressure of the military and the operations they are conducting throughout the country. It’s scary all the same.
Fierce civil confrontation forced the governments of 15 countries at once to declare Egypt a country not recommended for visiting tourists. It all started last July when the Egyptian military toppled the Islamist president.
Today, the consequences of those days are felt especially painfully: according to the Ministry of Tourism, in the first quarter of 2014, the industry’s revenues fell by almost half compared to the same period last year.
The fact that the number of tourists has become several times less can be easily guessed without mathematical calculations. It is enough to go out to the streets of Sharma: despite the fact that the city is still absent from the reports of foreign diplomats and is considered a quiet resort, foreign speech is practically inaudible.
Fear in the press is being whipped up with renewed vigor. And there are reasons for that. For example, in February, a group linked to al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bombing and killing of three South Korean tourists in the town of Taba on the Sinai.
In the wake of the attack, Britain dispatched security personnel to a Red Sea resort to assess the extent of the growing terrorist plague in the region and its aftermath. Meanwhile, in Sharm El Sheikh itself, the administration is stepping up security measures. On the outskirts of the hotels, the police, with detectors in their hands, inspect all passing cars for explosives. There are checkpoints throughout the city. The armed tourist police officers attached to them gaze intently and suspiciously at anyone passing by.
But as if this were not enough, recently reports from Sharm are full of reports that here and there another foreign tourist who has come to this orthodox Islamic region has been raped. In March, the five-star hotel lost its license after a 40-year-old businesswoman from Great Britain was raped by a staff member of the hotel’s security service (as she herself said). Around the same time, a local police officer was charged with attempted rape of a Russian tourist, whose hotel room he had entered without her permission.
Sharm al-Sheikh recruiting companies confirm that the problem has reached its climax. According to Hazen Hassan, who runs one of the city’s boutique hotels, «the days are harsh.» “We are trying to convince tourists that they have nothing to fear and suggest that we go out of our way to spend golden vacation weeks in a place that hits newspaper reports every day. Even a child knows that Egypt is not calm today. »
A handful of vendors chat with each other in the deserted Naama Bay, which is so loved by tourists. The topic of discussion is the consequences of the civil crisis that threaten their very existence. «Once upon a time, things were going great,» Ahmed Sayed nostalgic. «Today we are fighting for a piece of bread — that’s what the revolution has done to us.» According to Ahmed, not a single tourist has visited his souvenir shop in three days.
The Egyptian tourism industry, which provided a stable 12% of employment, is now slipping into a ditch, which affects the existence of many, many residents of the country.
Today, if the city keeps afloat, it is only at the expense of Russian tourists, who have also decreased. Apart from Russia, the UK remains the largest market for the resorts that have been announced by Sharm El Sheikh. Today, inscriptions in Arabic coexist with translations into Russian and English. And on the beaches DJs “light up” in both languages.
Hoteliers welcome the new trend. “We are grateful to them and we want to tell them to listen less to the newspapers and jump on the plane and to us as soon as possible,” laughs one local resident, busy taking at least some tourists from the beach to the bar. «Just look how good it is for them here: they boil hard-boiled in our sun, like that egg, and at night they dance until they drop.»
Egypt is due to hold another presidential election in May, with which the tourism industry has high hopes for a new, calm era in a country that traditionally advertises its beaches, culture and history, calling them nothing less than “the pearl in the crown of North Africa.
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