t’s been a year since a Russian passenger plane was downed by jihadists across Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, but tourism in the country is not showing any sign of recovery.
The October 31, 2015 plane bombing claimed by the so-called Islamic State, killed all 224 people on board leading to Russia canceling all flights to Egypt. Britain in turn canceled all flights to the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh from where the plane had taken off.
Citizens from the two countries make up about 40 percent of foreigners visiting Egypt.
Their absence as well as that of other foreign tourists has thus left cafeterias and restaurants at popular tourists sites like the Khan el-Khalil bazaar virtually empty save for a few Egyptian families and students who patronize the sites.
Amgad Qasabgi who owns a clothing store the bazaar said he now spends his days surfing facebook.
“I don’t have anything else to do,” he told AFP. “There are no foreign tourists. Spending by Egyptian tourists does not cover our daily expenses.”
Abdel Rahman, a sales man at a large lantern store summed up the fate of tourism in Egypt thus: “Tourism has totally died.”
In February, Egypt’s Prime Minister Ismail Sharif told state television that the country had lost up to $1.3 billion since the airline disaster in October 2015.
Tourist numbers plunged by more than half to 6.3 million last year as against the 15 million recorded in 2010.
But the Egyptian government is hoping to attract some 20 million tourists by the year 2020 through an international campaign to promote Egypt and develop its tourists sites.
Authorities have also declared a war on terror with president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowing to restore order.