Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism woes

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Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism woes

Post by DJKeefy »

Tourism in Luxor suffering due to ongoing political crisis in Cairo, not hot air balloon crash.

Tour guide Abu Ali has seen Luxor come to a halt before. The last time Islamist militants drove foreign visitors away, and now the historic Egyptian city must come to grips with a local tragedy and the fall-out from chaos in far-away Cairo.

Few tourists stroll through the corridors of Queen Hatshepsut's temple - a 3,500-year-old archaeological wonder and once Luxor's busiest tourist site - occasionally intercepted by a handful of vendors trying to sell trinkets at a discount.

Luxor is in shock after 19 people, mostly Asian and European visitors, were killed on Tuesday when a hot-air balloon crashed.

But Abu Ali, like many in Luxor, believes the greatest threat to local livelihoods comes from power struggles 500 km (300 miles) away in Cairo, which he says only provoke street violence while the vital tourist trade is neglected.

Some even long for the relative stability that Egypt enjoyed before the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

"Back in 2010, temples were packed and tomb visits were sold out in a matter of hours. Now the place is near-empty," said the 43-year-old tour guide, whose full name is Al-Jahlan al-Azab Abu Ali.

Luxor, home to the Valley of the Kings and Tutankhamun's tomb, recovered from the blow 15 years ago when militants armed with guns and knives descended on Queen Hatshepsut's temple and slaughtered more than 60 people, mostly tourists.

"I watched Luxor come to a halt in 1997 after the terrible terrorist attack and now I see it struggling again because politicians in Cairo are busy bickering with each other and neglecting one of Egypt's main revenue providers," he said.

Visitor numbers across Egypt hit 14.7 million in 2010 but slumped to 9.8 million during the year of the revolution. Numbers picked up to 11.5 million last year but, two years after the uprising, they remain far below the peak.

Political conflict has spilt regularly onto the streets of Cairo and other cities, with images of violence broadcast to the home countries of the mainly Asian and European tourists that Egypt needs to attract.

Luxor residents have also protested against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Several thousand took to the streets late last year when he issued a decree condemned by his opponents as a power grab. But the demonstration was peaceful and local people are protective of tourists, their main source of income.


HORRIFYING PICTURES

Some television stations cut out the most horrifying pictures of the collapsed balloon ablaze and plunging into a field, but others showed it all.

But tourists from France, Britain and Germany told Reuters they felt safe in Luxor, brushing aside the balloon crash as an unfortunate accident. They said the image of Egypt as politically unstable was more damaging.

"We feel very safe here. This is our second visit to Egypt. More people will come, eventually, when there is less a sense of chaos and more a sense of calm," said one French tourist, who declined to give his name.

Egyptian politics have become polarised as Islamists, liberals, leftists and the old guard of Mubarak's era argue over everything from elections to the economy.

The leaders of al-Gama'a al-Islamiya, in whose name the militants staged the 1997 attack, are now among the politicians struggling over the future of Egypt, having years ago renounced violence and now signed up to the democratic process.

Luxor's Governor Ezzat Saad said he did not believe the balloon tragedy had affected the flow of tourists. "I checked with a number of top hotels and there are no cancellations," he told Reuters.

He too pinned the blame for Luxor's problems on events in Cairo. "We are unfortunate in Luxor because we are paying the price of what our brothers are doing in Cairo," he said. "Luxor is safe and stable. We do not have problems relating to tourists. But the accident has added to our misfortune."

"Putting our political differences aside, we must realise that the tourism industry is of concern to all Egyptians and is the livelihood of a sizeable stratum of society," he said.

Prospects for political calm are dim. A number of opposition parties announced a boycott this week of parliamentary elections to be held from April until June.

Abu Ali says it is difficult for people in his profession not to yearn for the days of Mubarak, which were marked by corruption and repression but when tourism was at its peak.

"The antiquities authorities worked to increase the number of sites available to tourists to increase revenue. We do not feel this is happening now," he said.

One site that could boost Luxor's revenue was the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, which is currently closed and unused, he said.

The balloon crash has directly hit Luxor's tourism employment, at least temporarily, as the government has ordered 40 balloon companies to halt flights pending the outcome of an investigation into what caused the crash.

Source: http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/65870.aspx


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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by LovelyLadyLux »

For me it is the overall picture of political unrest in EGYPT as a whole. I think each city has a responsibility to police itself, keep its citizens safe and maintain rule and order but the overall situation of Egypt is what is being seen by the world IMO.

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by Zooropa »

Also, there is a global economic crises, this is having an impact also. Its hard to speculate but i suspect numbers would still fall quite some way short of expectations given the economic situation even if the other factors were not present.

What has happened in Egypt, in my opinion is only part of the reason for what ails it.

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by Chocolate Eclair »

Could imagine a second Sudan, North and south Egypt. With the South being peaceful and the North being riotous. Also the South being poor and the North being rich. Egypt has been left to defend for itself and its beliefs too long now without control, or discipline, goodness knows what the future will be.

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by LovelyLadyLux »

Egypt has been left to defend for itself and its beliefs too long now without control, or discipline, goodness knows what the future will be.
Egypt has been the receiptent of mega funds and direct support from the USA and others for years. This propping up has not left Egypt alone to fight the world.

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by Bombay »

Nothing to do with the hassle, sexual assaults etc etc....

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by Hafiz »

For LovelyLadyLux - the ocean of western non-military aid never gets mentioned. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you know, a lot of it is untargetted, there is waste and corruption and overall it leads to dependency and the government can go on its merry way because it knows that some of its responsibilities will be picked up by aid programs. Interestingly I've never read of any aid programs, other than to impoverished groups to produce touristic fair trade products, directed to improve and develop tourism in Egypt while money is always found to prop up the weak but not to develop the economy. I'm not saying that you shouldn't do the former.

Whether its the balloon or the unrest (or economic conditions in the west) I suspect that there are long run changes in tourism patterns that will work against Luxor and Aswan and that, even were overall numbers to improve to pre-revolution levels, the increasing share will go to the Red Sea coast. The Quatari's said a few months ago that they were going to spend several billions (5 I think) on coastal tourism on the Mediterranean so I guess that they have done some planning about where future growth will be.

Its difficult to get numbers on the various shares of tourism but most newspapers say that about 80% goes to the coast and that the coast has been the big growth area over the past decade or two whilst Cairo, Alex, Luxor and Aswan have got a smaller share of the then growing market.

My guess is that the recent declines have fallen most on the non coast destinations.

No one seems to publish any 5 or 10 year stats on Luxor (or really any stats at all) and the changes in share of package, backpacker and independent tourists. If you had these figures you could see what is happening and start to plan for the future.

Also, no one in Egypt has said that they have any stats on tourist satisfaction on their trip or what the average prospective tourist wants or expects to get from Egypt. All they do is place advertisements in the same European papers and offer deals to the European tour companies and airlines in an entirely unfocussed way.

Anything I read from their Excellencies in Tourism in Cairo seems devoid of any understanding on how to grow the industry after the dust settles (not that I know anything about that either). If you think about it, the only sensible thing that the tourism planners could be doing now would to be think 3 to 5 years out - there's nothing they can do to counter the current bad publicity although I'm sure they will spend scarce dollars trying to plug it.

If you want proof of the idiocy of Egyptian government tourism then read a previous post of mine showing that their amply funded overseas offices are mostly in low growth markets and are probably staffed by sinecure seekers. (see in post World's Best Holiday Destination for Muslims Named).

Governors running around saying that everything is OK/will get better/there is no problem, won't do anything good for anyone.

The sexual assaults thing is a reed herring. Assaults happen everywhere but, in the case of third world destinations like Egypt, the western press blows it up - its always a young woman, its always some man with a beard and it always plays into stereotypes. A proper government tourism authority would be issuing stats showing (which I think is true) that Egypt is a comparatively safe third world destination (no malaria or other major diseases, no murders on buses, no Thai, Phillipine, Cambodia like pedophile rings or organized sex tourism etc). When you come to think of it most third world tourist destinations have lots of nasties in them that don't get sensational press treatment. On the other hand the press can go ga ga when a tourist is taken by a shark or crocodile in Australia, which unfortunately happens from time to time.

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by Grandad »

I enjoyed reading your post Hafiz, balanced and well reasoned IMO.

I agree that people will go to the Red Sea resorts, probably in increasing numbers, because it is very good value and generally regarded as away from mainland Egypt and all its problems.

As is always the case, the media do not help the situation at all. Reports always tend to focus on the negatives and never on positives to balance their news items. But positives would be 'good news' and the media seems to thrive only on 'bad news'. :(
Grandad :gg:

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by Kaiserbernese »

It's been reported on the BBC news today that two British tourists have been kidnapped in South Sinai. They were apparently travelling in a private car from Cairo to a Red Sea resort.

I don't think this is going to do much to help tourism either.

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by Grandad »

Kaiserbernese wrote:It's been reported on the BBC news today that two British tourists have been kidnapped in South Sinai.
Yes, there is a separate thread on that topic Kb. But in reality I don't think that will put people off. Most who go to 'Real Egypt' go for the history, culture and the peolple. Even the balloon accident, tragic as it is, should not put people off visiting Egypt. They DON'T HAVE to take a balloon trip so where is the problem. There are bus accidents on a similar scale around the world but it doesn't stop people travelling on buses.

There are risks in our daily life wherever we live and to cocoon ourselves from those risks would be to miss SO much that life and the world has to offer.
Grandad :gg:

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Re: Luxor blames Cairo chaos, not balloon crash for tourism

Post by biosceptic »

I think the strike at the VOK is more significant to tourist decisions, fear of hassle and the risk of not being able to see what you came for is likely to send tourists to other "easier" destinations. Egypt's saving grace is many other places for seeing antiquities are more risky.

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