People, Travel

Egypt Beefs Up Security for Tourists

Egypt Beefs Up Security for TouristsEgypt Beefs Up Security for Tourists

Egypt’s tourism minister says the government will spend $32 million to upgrade security in two Red Sea resorts popular with foreign tourists.

In a statement issued Thursday, Hisham Zaazou said the plan would expand the use of security cameras, scanning and detection equipment and sniffer dogs in Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada. He says additional security personnel will be deployed, AP reported.

News of the upgrade follows two attacks this month targeting hotels frequented by foreign tourists in Cairo and Hurghada. No one was hurt in the Cairo attack, but three tourists — two Austrians and a Swede — were injured in Hurghada.

Egypt’s tourism industry was further shattered by the suspected terror bombing that brought down the Russian airliner over Sinai last October, killing all 224 people on board. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.

Following the bombing of the plane, Egypt opened three tombs in the ancient city of Luxor to the public for the first time, hoping to spur interest in tourism despite the shadow of airline crash in the Sinai Peninsula.

And on Thursday, as part of concentrated government efforts to attract much-needed tourists, authorities unveiled what it said is the Middle East’s first museum dedicated to fossils that showcase an early form of whales, now extinct and known as the “walking whale.”

Tourist numbers fell sharply in the years since the 2011 popular uprising ousted Egypt’s longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt declined by 37.8% in November 2015 compared with the same period in 2014, the Middle East Monitor quoted a report by Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics.

Some 558,600 tourist arrived in Egypt in November 2015 compared with 898,200 during the same month of 2014, the agency said.

According to the report, 40% of tourists were western Europeans followed by eastern Europeans who made up 28.5% of those visiting the country.

Russian tourists made up 47% of East European tourists, while Saudi Arabia topped the list of Middle Eastern visitors.