Egypt battles to contain shark fallout
Tourism officials in Egypt are battling to contain the potentially catastrophic fallout from a series of shark attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh.
The attacks culminated in the death of a German tourist on Sunday, with three Russian holidaymakers and a Ukrainian visitor injured last week.
Pictured: Sharm el-Sheikh is one of the most popular destinations in Egypt
A ban on swimming – which was temporarily lifted on Sunday before the fatality – has been indefinitely imposed, with a five mile stretch of shoreline out of bounds.
Areas affected include the popular Naama Bay.
The majority of the four million annual visitors to the region are leisure travellers, with local officials now concerned about the adverse impact on travel.
However, to date, there have been few cancellations.
“We have received no cancellations. There is nothing negative as of yet,” explained tourism ministry spokeswoman Omayma al-Husseini.
“But if the beaches remain closed, we would be concerned,” she added, “eighty per cent of tourists are leisure tourists, they visit beaches. That is why we would become concerned.”
Tourism in Egypt
Egypt has sought to position itself as a cheaper alternative to European destinations over the past five years, with consumers seeking out more affordable breaks.
Alongside Turkey, Egypt has emerged at the head of this ‘mid-haul’ market.
Last year tourism generated US$10.7 billion for the local economy, despite a 2.1 per cent fall in visitor numbers. The sector presently accounts for 11 per cent of the national gross domestic product.
Tourism minister Zoheir Garana said in February that the government hoped to see arrivals rise to 14 million this year, bringing in revenues of US$11.5 billion.