August 14, 2001 No. 1

The Impact of the Intifada on Tourism in Egypt

August 14, 2001 | By Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli*
No. 1

Tourism in Egypt appears to be the unintended victim of the Palestinian Intifada. For fear of their personal security in the face of rising anti-Israeli sentiments in Egypt, Israeli tourists, who were the primary customers of the resort hotels in Taba, Egypt (also known as the Egyptian Riviera) are avoiding the area. As a result, hotel occupancy in the Taba resorts has declined by 75 percent, accompanied by a general economic slump. The tourism industry is at risk of losing much of the value of its $1.5 billion investment intended to develop Taba and its environs.

The Egyptian Minister of Tourism, Mr. Mamdooh al-Bulgati, indicated that building tourist sites in Taba to cater to Israeli tourists was a mistake. With the help of promotional missions to Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union the minister is seeking to attract European tourists to replace the Israelis.

The minister has also pleaded with Egyptians to frequent tourism sites in Egypt instead of spending their money in Europe. However, there has been little response to this plea because Egyptians prefer to go to European countries which offer them cheaper facilities and bigger attractions than those in Egypt.[1]

It should be noted that Egypt has registered a sharp decline in tourism, in general. According to the August issue of the Monthly Bulletin of the Central Bank of Egypt[2] , the number of tourists visiting Egypt has declined by 125,000, or 25 percent, between April and May of this year alone. Of course, it is not uncommon for tourists to avoid areas where the political temperature is high or rising.

*Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli is Senior Analyst of MEMRI's Middle East Economic Studies Program.

[1] Arabic online, August 6, 2001.

[2] Monthly Bulletin of the Central Bank of Egypt, August 2001.

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