CAIRO: Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou voiced his concern over a potential “negative impact on Egypt’s inbound tourism” following the deadly attack on the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo Wednesday.
“The attack will not only affect the number of French tourists visiting Egypt but it might also cause European tour operators to reconsider Egypt as a travel destination. The attack comes in a critical period as it coincides with a notable increase in the number of tourists visiting Egypt,” said Zaazou during an interview aired on al-Tahrir TV channel Wednesday.
A number of outlets have reported two suspects have been identified by French police: Cherif and Said Kouachi, both French of North African descent.
“The attack might ruin the efforts of the president, the tourism ministry and the government to boost the tourism sector,” Zaazou said.
Europe accounts for 72 percent of annual incoming tourism to Egypt, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.
During his tour to three European countries in late November, Sisi met in Paris with representatives of French tourism companies to further increase French investment and tourism in Egypt.
The sector, which represents 11 percent of the country’s GDP, has been suffering from ongoing stress since the January 25 Revolution in 2011 that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
Despite a few instances of apparent recovery, continuous instability, political turmoil and a lack of security have remained challenges to the sector over the past almost four years.
In mid-November, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met in Cairo with a delegation of 15 top European tour operators to discuss ways to boost the ailing tourism sector.
“The delegation combined Europe’s leading travel agencies, representing over 85 percent of number of European tourists visiting Egypt every year. Some of these travel agencies have resumed their operations to Egypt to their normal rates starting from January 2015,” Egyptian Tourism Federation Chairman Elhamy El-Zayat told The Cairo Post.