Govt official: Israeli tourist flow into Sinai unaffected by border unrest

The number of Israeli tourists heading to Egypt has not been affected by the recent turmoil on the border between the two countries, Samy Mahmoud, a senior official at the Egyptian Tourist Authority, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Six Egyptian security and military personnel were killed in an Israeli raid near the Egyptian-Israeli border on Thursday.

The number of Israeli visitors jumped by 30.6 percent in July, Mahmoud revealed.

He attributed the steady rate to the fact that Israelis do not need visas to access South Sinai, especially the resort areas of Dahab, Nuweiba, Sharm el-Sheikh and Taba.

As of Saturday, nearly 2000 Israelis had entered Egypt since the unrest began, Mahmoud said. Israeli visitors are usually indifferent to their government's warnings and are aware that Egypt is secure, he added.

Mahmoud said on Tuesday that the authority will receive reports from its offices abroad about the impact of the recent violence on tourist flow, adding that foreign media coverage will determine those trends.

Despite South Sinai's tourist destinations being far from the northern border with Israel, he expected incoming Sinai tourism to be negatively affected should the current conditions continue.

Sherif Bahaa Eddin, a hotel marketing manager in Taba, said 15 percent of hotel reservations have been cancelled as a consequence, but described the rate as "low" compared to the 50 percent drop expected.

Bahaa Eddin confirmed that Israeli authorities' warnings to their citizens did not have much impact, explaining that the majority of visitors at the present are Israeli Arabs.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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