UN tourism agency pledges help to Egypt to recover from terrorist bombings
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (WTO) has offered Egypt its full support in helping the country to surmount the negative impact on its flourishing tourism industry from Saturday’s terrorist bombings at its Sharm el-Sheikh resort.
“WTO has gained extensive experience in crisis management in the last few years, especially due to the work of our Recovery Committee, which for a long time was chaired by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism,” WTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli told Egyptian Minister of Tourism Ahmed el Maghraby in a letter.
“We have to try and make sure that terrorist attacks and threats do not spoil people’s holiday plans, wherever they may be going, and that Egypt is not abandoned as a destination,” said Mr. Frangialli, whose 148-member organization acts as a global forum that plays a decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
“As we have seen just recently, terrorist attacks can happen anywhere, even if they are not travelling abroad. People should not be discouraged from travelling,” he added.
The Madrid-based WTO earlier this year tried to mitigate the adverse effects of the Indian Ocean tsunami, urging tourists to return to devastated countries like Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand and Indonesia, so as not to slow the recovery of an important economic sector.
It then called on the world’s media to take care in its coverage of destinations hit by the disaster so as to avoid a new “infodemic,” a repeat of the slump that hit Asian tourism two years earlier when an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed 774 people and infected more than 8,000 worldwide, the vast majority of them in China, led to a steep fall-off in travel.
In 2004, Egypt recorded the biggest increase in international tourist arrivals in the Middle East and North Africa, more than 2 million or a 34 per cent rise, to reach almost 8 million. The country, which was only barely affected by terrorist attacks on its Taba resort in Sinai last October, benefited from the strength of the European currency.
“Despite the brutality of this attack, I have no doubts that Egyptian tourism will be capable of overcoming this shock, just as it has on other occasions in the past,” Mr. Frangialli said.