Egypt steps up security after attacks on tourists

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Jan. 14, 2016 at 10:33 AM
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CAIRO, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Egypt announced it will strengthen security at its tourist resorts after two hotel attacks this year and a sharp drop-off in tourism.

Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said this week that 250 million Egyptian pounds ($32 million) will be spent on scanning and detection equipment, sniffer dogs and integrated surveillance systems, notably at Red Sea resorts in Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada. He added that archaeological sites will also receive funding to increase security. Zaazou said hotel occupancy at Sharm el-Sheikh is now at around 15 percent of capacity; the resort is also off-limits to British tourists since the crash of a Russian airplane in October, blamed on terrorism, which killed 224 people, most of them Russian tourists.

The announcement of improvements comes after three tourists were injured in a knife attack at Hurghada, and pellet gun shots fired at a bus at the Giza pyramids. While Zaazou referred to those attacks as "amateurish," and no tourists were injured, they damage Egypt's reputation and will deter visitors already concerned about the plane crash.

Former minister Khaled Ramy said in March 2015 that Egypt hopes to attract 20 million visitors per year by 2020, up from 9.8 million in 2014. He famously said at the time that "not a rat from the desert" could penetrate security at Sharm el-Sheikh, months before the plane crash.

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