Terrorism and tourism in Egypt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Egyptian man in the desert with camel

Terrorism and tourism in Egypt is when terrorist attacks are specifically aimed at Egypt's tourists. These attacks often end in fatalities and injuries and has an immediate and sometimes lasting effect on the industry. Attacks take many forms; blowing up an airplane carrying tourists,[1] drive-by shootings of tourists, knife attacks on tourists and suicide bombings in a location where tourists are congregated. On the timeline of these events, the 1997 Luxor Massacre stands out - 62 tourists were ambushed and killed.

Attacks are carried out by different extremists over the years, and have an immediate effect on tourism, an important part of Egypt's economy. So while there is a history of persecution and terrorism aimed at Egypt's Coptic Christians and terrorism is directed at Egypt's security and government officials, terrorism targeting tourists affects the citizens of other countries.[2] Tourism agencies note that when an attack occurs against tourists, Egypt loses tourism dollars to other countries such as China, India or Morocco.[1]

In the first six months of 2018, tourism revenue had increased by 71% to $4.8 billion amid an upsurge of visitors. More than 5 million tourists visited, a jump of 41%, as compared to same time frame in 2017.[3]

After almost two years without an attack targeting tourists, a bomb targeting tourists was planted near a bus with Vietnamese tourists, killing four, on 28 of December, 2018.[4]


Tourist on the Red Sea Riviera

The Egyptian tourism industry is one of the most important sectors of Egypt's economy, in terms of employment and foreign currency, and at times it has been as much as 1% of the world tourism market.[5] The many constituents of tourism include historical attractions, especially in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, but also beach and other sea activities, with foreign tourism actively encouraged since it is a major source of currency and investment. Political instability since January 2011 caused fluctuations in tourism income.[6][7]

Around 1992, the new tactic of attacking tourists was noted by then President Mubarak who addressed the parliament on the grave effects these growing number of attacks by Muslim fundamentalist could have on Egypt's $2 billion tourism industry. Heightened security involved having to hire armed security guards to escort tour buses.[8]

The connection between terrorism and tourism has been widely studied since the Luxor massacre in Egypt in 1997. The amount of news coverage a disaster gets and its effects on the tourism industry of that country has been studied by experts like Dr. Gabby Walters from the University of Queensland, Australia. Her predecessors at the university wrote the book Tourism in Turbulent Times.[9][10][11]

Egypt's tourism industry was depressed from the Arab Spring and through the Egyptian revolution of 2011 and through the Egyptian crisis (2011–14). According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourists in the first quarter of 2017 had increased by almost 50% compared to the 1st quarter of 2016, but with hotel occupancy rates still only reaching 30% by 15 July 2017.[12]

Photo at the Pyramids

The Egyptian Pyramids attract millions of visitors each year and tourists also visit places in Upper Egypt, the Egyptian museums, Coptic Cairo, ancient monasteries, Mount Sinai, the Red Sea Riviera, places with Islamic culture and Islamic art, and other places. Attacks cause countries to issue travel advisories, on steps to take for safety or countries issue travel warnings, asking tourists to avoid all but necessary travel to Egypt. As of August 2017 Canada had several travel warnings on Egypt but pointed out that the Sharm El Sheikh resort area was excluded from the warning.[13]

The Grand Egyptian Museum is a multi-million dollar museum, which is being built with help from Japan and France, slated to partially open in 2018,[14] is a more recent investment into Egypt's Tourism Industry, and will require extensive security.[15][16]

The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, located in Al-Fustat made a soft opening in February. The museum features state-of-the-art security.[17][18]

Notable incidents and effects[edit]

Luxor, Egypt

Researchers studying terrorism and tourism said that "Random acts of terrorism curtail travel activity until the public's memories of the publicized incidents fade. Persistent terrorism, however, can tarnish a destination's image of safety and attractiveness and jeopardize its entire tourism industry."[10]

Pyramids of Giza[edit]

On 29 March 1993, al-Jama`a al-Islamiya caused an explosion at the Pyramid of Khafre. On 8 June 1993, a bomb lobbed at a tour bus in Giza's Pyramid Rock, killed foreign tourists and Egyptians. In late 1993, American and French tourists were shot dead at the Semiramis Hotel in Cairo.[19]

In 1996, 18 Greek tourists who had finished touring Jerusalem and were in Egypt, near the Europa Hotel in Cairo, were killed and security nearby were not prepared (armed) to protect them.[20]

On 28 December 2018, a bomb targeting tourists was planted near a bus with Vietnamese tourists, killing four.[4]

Upper Egypt[edit]

Location of the Luxor massacre

62 people, mostly tourists, were killed and 26 were injured during the Luxor massacre on 17 November 1997. The weapons of choice were firearms and knives. Hotels eliminated 70% of their workforce and "...European and Japanese tourism companies canceled their tours to Egypt" after the attack.[21]

In 2014 an Egyptian citizen from Upper Egypt lamented that what had "provided one of the most important sources of income besides farming has dried out".[22]

Sinai Peninsula[edit]

Hilton Hotel - Taba, Egypt

The Red Sea Riviera, Egypt's eastern coastline along the Red Sea, is a popular destination spot.

In 2004, tourism from Israel all but stopped after three incidents. Before 2004, "400,000 Israelis visited the peninsula each year. Over a decade later, the number is a trickle."[23]

On 2 May 2014, a bomb on a tour bus in Sharm El Sheikh detonated, killing one and injuring four others.[24]

Reuters reported that Sinai's militants had turned their attention from security forces to tourists or soft targets. The explosion was caught on camera when on 16 February 2014, four civilians including three South Korean tourists were killed in what is known as the 2014 Taba bus bombing.[25][26] The bomber detonated his device on a tour bus carrying more than 30 members of a South Korean church group. They had traveled from Cairo to Saint Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula. The bus was waiting to cross into Israel when the explosion occurred.[27] The South Korean tourists belonged to the Jincheon Jungang Presbyterian Church. They had reportedly "saved for years to visit Biblical sites on the 60th anniversary of their church".[27] After this attack, Britons were warned not to travel to South Sinai, with an official government travel warning.[28]

By 2015, conditions had deteriorated to the point where Israeli tourists stopped going to the area for 18 months then resumed their visits, under heavy security in 2017.[29]

When tourism was recovering after the Egyptian crisis from 2011–2014, the downing of an airplane which left Sharm El Sheikh airport with Russian tourists on 31 October 2015, sent shock waves through the industry again. The cause was suspected to be a bomb and speculation largely fell on an airport worker. Russia stopped all flights to Sharm-El-Sheik, until Russian officials inspected the airport and felt it met better security standards.[30][31] After the downing of the jet, "scared tourists" left the area, affecting the Bedouin population who worked in the tourism industry.[32] Russian and Britain stopped all flights to Sharm El Sheikh.[33] The drop in tourism was immense after the Russian tourists on the airplane were killed. Tourism income for Egypt dropped from $12 Billion in 2010 to almost half in 2016.[34]

In 2016 tourists were attacked in Hurghada, resulting in the wounding of the two people. The city was targeted again in 2017,[35] when a radicalized 29-year-old man stabbed several tourists at the resort area, killing two German and a Czech.[12]

Whether targeting Egypt's Coptic Christians, tourists or both, an attack on 18 April 2017 near St. Catherine's Monastery, leaving a number of police officers injured came at a critical time, when Egypt was anxiously awaiting a decision on whether flights from Russia would resume. Even before the attack, Israel had asked its citizens not to go into the Sinai Peninsula.[36]

Western Desert[edit]

Western Desert

On 19 September 2008, tourists were held hostage by a number of men who took them into the Western desert and demanded ransom money. After ten days, a rescue mission resulted in the successful rescue of all the hostages and in the killing of one of the abductors.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Glusac, Elaine (10 November 2015). "Russian Airplane Crash Shakes Egypt's Tourism". NYT. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Egypt Officials Say Resort Knife Attacker Tasked by IS". NYT. Associated Press. 30 July 2017.
  3. ^ Sayed, Mohamed (20 November 2018). "Top Egyptian travel company sees sector recovering as tourists return". Reuters.
  4. ^ a b "Four killed in roadside bomb attack near Egypt's Giza pyramids". Al Jazeera.
  5. ^ Egypt's Tourism Industry (PDF) (Report). Bank of Alexandria. October 2010. p. 7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  6. ^ Kotb, Ahmed (24 October 2012). "Tourism Tips". Al-Ahram. Archived from the original on 27 October 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  7. ^ Neil Hollingsworth (5 July 2012). "EGYPTIAN TOURISM FIGURE IMPRESSES INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS". Rivermead Global Property. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Egypt's tourist industry threatened by terrorism". BBC. 16 November 1992.
  9. ^ Sönmez, S. F.; Apostolopoulos, Y.; Tarlow, P. (1999). "Tourism in crisis: Managing the effects of terrorism". Journal of Travel Research. 38 (1): 13–18. CiteSeerX doi:10.1177/004728759903800104. S2CID 154984322.
  10. ^ a b Tarlow, P. E. (2006). "Tourism and Terrorism". In Wilks J, Pendergast D & Leggat P. (Eds) Tourism in turbulent times: Towards safe experiences for visitors (Advances in Tourism Research), Elsevier, Oxford, pp. 80–82.
  11. ^ "UQ Researchers - Dr. Gabby Walters". The University of Queensland, Australia. Archived from the original on 19 August 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  12. ^ a b Regev, Dana (15 July 2017). "Egypt's tourism industry suffers a critical blow". DW. Archived from the original on 16 July 2017. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Advisory Warnings - Egypt". Government of Canada Travel Warnings. Archived from the original on 2017-07-19.
  14. ^ "Great Museum to be inaugurated in May 2018". Egypt Independent. 10 May 2015. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017.
  15. ^ Hassan, Khalid (28 September 2015). "23 years and millions of dollars later, will the Grand Egyptian Museum ever open". Al Monitor. Archived from the original on 7 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Egypt Runs Out Of Money To Build New Grand Egyptian Museum". Egyptian Streets. 29 April 2015. Archived from the original on 4 December 2016.
  17. ^ "National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation receives 453 artefacts". Egypt Daily News. 19 July 2017.
  18. ^ El-Aref, Nevine (14 Feb 2017). "National Museum of Egyptian Civilization opens temporary exhibit, free admission". Ahram Online. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Egypt in 1993". Britannica. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  20. ^ "1996: Greek tourists killed by Egyptian gunmen". BBC. No. On This Day. 18 April 1996. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016.
  21. ^ Kibazo, Joel (25 November 1997). "The Luxor massacre and Egypt's tourist industry". BBC. No. World Service.
  22. ^ Gratowski, J. Thomas (17 February 2014). "Is Egypt Breaking Apart?". International Affairs Review. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014.
  23. ^ Kelly, Laura (16 May 2016). "Israeli tourists brave security threats in Sinai for a slice of paradise". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Friday bombings leave 4 dead in Heliopolis, South Sinai". Mada Masr. 2 May 2014. Archived from the original on 4 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  25. ^ "Sinai-based militants claim responsibility for tourist bus blast in Egypt". Reuters. Yahoo. 17 February 2014. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017.
  26. ^ "Deadly bombing hits Egypt tour bus". BBC News. 16 February 2014. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  27. ^ a b Fahim, Kareem; El Sheikh, Mayy (16 February 2014). "Bombing of Tourist Bus Kills at Least Three in Sinai". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 July 2016.
  28. ^ "Egypt warning: Britons told to avoid South Sinai". BBC. 19 February 2014. Archived from the original on 17 February 2017.
  29. ^ "Israeli tourists visit Egypt for first time in 18 months under high security: embassy". Egypt Independent. 5 January 2017. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  30. ^ Sakr, Taha (31 January 2017). "Flights between Egypt and Russia may resume in February: Russian Izvestia Newspaper". Daily News Egypt.
  31. ^ Matthews, Owen (24 May 2016). "Metrojet Crash: Why the insider threat to airport security isn't just Egypt's problem". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017.
  32. ^ Staton, Bethan (31 July 2017). "Tourism in Egypt: Can trained Bedouin guides lure people back to the Sinai Peninsula?". Newsweek.
  33. ^ Walsh, Declan (18 April 2017). "Gunmen Kill Police Officer Near St. Catherine's Monastery in Egypt". NYT. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  34. ^ Harris, Emily (23 May 2016). "People Aren't Coming To See The Pyramids Or Snorkel In The Red Sea". NPR. No. All Things Considered.
  35. ^ "Two Killed in Egypt Tourist Resort". BBC. No. The Newsroom. 14 July 2017. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017.
  36. ^ Abdelaty, Ali (18 April 2017). "Gunmen Kill Police in Attack Near Egypt's Iconic St. Catherine's Monastery". Reuters. TIME. Archived from the original on 11 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  37. ^ "Tourists unharmed after Egypt kidnapping ordeal". September 29, 2008 – via www.reuters.com.