The three simultaneous bombings, which on Monday hit an Egyptian beach resort popular with foreigners is expected to damage the local tourism industry and thus the entire economy. The explosions in Dahab were the third terror strike on a Sinai resort in less than two years. It is clear that the terrorists target the tourism sector, which is so vital to the Egyptian economy.
In fact, tourism is one of Egypt's key foreign currency earners, along with Suez Canal receipts, remittances from Egyptian expatriates and gas exports.
Last year, and despite an attack during the summer, Egypt received 8.6 million tourist arrivals and was targeting to increase this year the number by another 2 million tourist arrivals.
It is interesting to note that the number of tourists visiting Egypt grew 5 percent in 2005 but was below target because of a stronger currency, weaker European economies and bombings in Sharm el-Sheikh, which killed 67 people.
Following the bombings in July 2005 in Sharm el-Sheikh, one of Egypt's main Red Sea diving resorts, visitor numbers dropped 15 percent in August from the same month of 2004.
Originally, the Egyptian government had aimed for 9 million tourists in 2005 as part of its strategy to create more jobs in an industry which already employs 10 percent of Egypt's work force. The government is aiming for 14 million tourists a year by mid-2011, Egypt's tourism minister, Ahmed el-Maghrabi told Reuters late last year. "Economic studies show that each one million new tourists to Egypt will generate some 200,000 jobs," he said.
Now, it seems that many Egyptians employed in the tourism sector will lose their jobs as foreign tourists will think twice before vacationing in Egypt.