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Minister: Deadly Sinai attack has no negative impact on tourism

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Egypt’s newly-appointed Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou has denied that there has been any negative impact on tourism following the recent attack on the Egyptian-Gaza border by unknown assailants whi

Egypt’s newly-appointed Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou has denied that there has been any negative impact on tourism following the recent attack on the Egyptian-Gaza border by unknown assailants which left 16 Egyptian border guards dead and seven injured.

Zazou confirmed that tourism agencies have not yet cancelled reservations, saying that he called them in person to make sure.

He stressed that tourists should feel secure again in the country, adding that this is supposed to be one of the president’s priorities.

Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, pledged last weekend to guarantee security for tourists, whose numbers have slumped since last year’s uprising in a major setback for the country’s economy.

Elhamy El-Zayat, the head of the Egypt Tourism Federation, warns of another shock to the sector in the country, particularly as the Sinai attack was preceded by two bloody clashes in Giza and Cairo.

Clashes erupted at downtown Cairo’s Nile City Towers on Thursday afternoon with at least one death reported, when a crowd set light to parked vehicles beside the Nile-front complex and attacked parts of the building.

Earlier this month, a fight which erupted between a Christian and a Muslim in the village of Dahshur, Giza, led to wider clashes and one death.

El-Zayat said that the total loss to the tourism sector in 2011 is estimated to be LE5 billion ($833.3 million), and one third of the workers in this field were laid off.

The tourism industry in Egypt employs around four million people.

This new blow comes at a time when many were expecting the sector to start to recover.

Former minister of tourism Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said at a press conference in July that 5,242,652 tourists visited Egypt during the first six months of 2012, a 27 per cent rise on the same period in 2011. He also said that he expected more than 12 million tourists by the end of current year.