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Egypt pleads for support as visitors plummet 90% since troubles began

EGYPT’S TOURISM minister used last week’s ITB to launch an impassioned appeal in support of the country, while reassuring the trade and the media that it was safe for travellers to visit.

Hisham Zaazou stressed that

following the fatal tourist attack in Taba last month, security had been stepped up to its highest level to safeguard travellers in the region. He explained that the authorities

had now adopted a three-pronged approach to improve safety involving the army, security officials and the tourism industry at large. But he conceded that while this

had convinced a number of countries, including the UK and Russia, to refrain from warning against travel to Sharm el Sheikh, Germany had stepped up its advisory to recommend against travel to the Red Sea resort. German tour operators responded

by flying customers home and taking the resort off sale following the German government’s upgraded advice, a move Zaazou claimed was casting a negative shadow over the whole of Egypt. During his visit to Berlin, Zaazou met with German foreign ministry


Tourism goes from strength to strength with arrivals up 5%

THE WORLD’S travel leaders were in an optimistic mood at this year’s ITB as figures confirmed the continuing durability of the global tourism industry. The latest statistics from tourism

body UNWTO recorded better than expected growth in international tourism arrivals of 5% in 2013 to

nearly 1.1 billion. This follows a record performance in 2012 when they broke through the one billion barrier for the first time. “Tourism is an impressive success

story,” said World Travel and Tourism Council chairman Dr Michael Frenzel. Further growth of up to 4.5% is predicted this year, bolstered by

Promoting Egypt at the country’s stand at ITB

officials and invited them to review Egypt’s heightened security measures at first hand – an offer he hoped they would take up. “The German government has

taken their decision and 11 other countries in Europe have now followed suit,” he said. “We are paying the price and

the people behind the attack are sitting back smiling and saying that it has worked. “Do not reward terrorists and do

not reward terrorism,” he urged. The minister stressed that the

political protests and violence in Cairo were not aimed at tourists, but he said that since the unrest

started Egypt’s tourism industry had been decimated with numbers falling by 90%. It has dropped from a high of 15

million visitors, accounting for a tourism spend of $25 billion in 2010, but the worst point came last September when there were just 300,000 tourists in the country as a result of travel advisories issued by various governments warning their citizens against travel. However, when the advisories were

lifted this figure rose swiftly, reaching nearly 680,000 in December. “This shows Egypt is in demand,”

he added. “It is a resilient industry and it will come back.”

rocketing demand from Russia, China and India, which Dr Frenzel called the “growth engines” of the global market. However, he warned that unrest in

Egypt and the stand-off in Crimea between Russian and Ukrainian forces could cast a shadow. “We see conflict in the Ukraine as

being very toxic for the tourism industry,” he added. Dr Frenzel hoped Europe’s strong

relationship with the region would help to bring stability, but he urged politicians to do what they could to defuse the situation.

Officials say problems are concentrated around the “drug passageway” in cities such as Juarez

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Mexico says drug- related crime affects just a few areas

AS THE official partner country of ITB this year, Mexico was keen to use its heightened profile not only to talk about its attractions, but to dispel fears over violent crime. Tourism officials accept that the

government’s highly publicised battles with ruthless drug barons have tarnished its image, tarring the whole country with the same brush, though only a small number of areas are claimed to have been affected. Representatives from Mexico’s

regional states said the issue needed to be put into perspective, especially as the country is approximately 15 times larger than the UK. “Mexico has 3,000 municipalities

and only 50 of them have had problems related to the drug cartels, and that is because they are on the border with the US,” explained Santiago Gonzalez Abreu, marketing director for the Yucatan Tourist Board. “The problems are concentrated

around the drug passageway through Mexico to the border. Merida City Council economic

development secretary Luis Felipe Riancho Camara said his city was extremely safe, with crime figures the same as those in Switzerland. He claimed the city was becoming

increasingly popular with tourists. “Last year 25,000 Canadian

residents came to live in Merida, and we have a lot of English too,” he added. “Some of these people have second homes here.”

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