The tourism sector is expected to incur further major losses after the Italian Association for Responsible Tourism (AITR) decided to suspend its flights to Egypt until the circumstances of the killing of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni are disclosed.
Italian companies affiliated with the association agreed to suspend their flights, and cancelled all agreements which were to be signed in April, due to the Egyptian authorities’ failure to clarify the truth of what happened to Regeni, according to a statement issued by the association on Saturday.The Egyptian tourism sector has been plagued with heavy losses since the downing of the Russian plane at the end of October, and the suspension of AITR’s flights will double the losses, according to head of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Tourism, Elhamy El-Zayat.
El-Zayat believes that most affected area is Marsa Alam, as most of the visitors there are Italians. “The sector has no means of curtailing losses in these conditions. The issue is now connected to politics in every aspect,” said El-Zayat.
Egypt’s income from tourism declined at the end of 2015 after the Russian plane crash incident, falling from $7.3bn in 2014 to $6.1bn. The number of Italian tourists coming to Egypt fell to 332,000 tourists over 2015, 16% less than 2014.
Adel Rady, Chairman of the Tourism Investors’ Association in Marsa Alam, said the AITR’s decision to suspend their flights to Egypt will delay the recovery of tourism in the area.
Occupancy rates in Marsa Alam range between 10% and 30%, according to Rady, who added that many hotels have closed their doors over the past four months as a result of decline in the influx of foreign tourists to Egypt.
Maurizio Davolio, president of the AITR, commented on the decision to suspend flights Saturday, saying that while Egypt is the most important partner for Italian companies, this does not prevent the Italian companies from taking such a serious decision after the “brutal” death of Regeni.