Travel industry eyes new frontiers after Sinai crash


LONDON: Last month’s deadly Russian jet crash in Egypt has plunged the north African tourist industry further into crisis, with resorts seen as less risky now likely to benefit from the shifting travel patterns, experts said.

Sunseeking travelers are also likely to place particular emphasis on the reputation of particular airports when making plans, although attractive prices are certain to still be a major factor.

Some 9.9 million tourists visited Egypt last year — almost half of them going to Red Sea resorts.

But the total was far lower than the 14.7 million who visited in 2010, before the Arab Spring uprisings, and that figure is likely to drop further.

All 224 people on board the flight from Egyptian resort Sharm el-Sheikh were killed when it came down in Sinai last week and Britain has said a bomb planted by an Islamic State (IS) was most likely responsible.

Britain and Russia — which accounted for 62 percent of the tourists in Sharm el-Sheikh before the incident — have since suspended flights there.

The crash is the latest in a series of incidents that have hit the region’s travel sector, including two attacks on tourist sites in Tunisia in March and July in which a total of 59 people were killed.

Heightened instability has also put off visitors to some parts of Turkey, while the European migrant crisis has done the same for some Greek islands.

“The scare for declining markets is that once they emerge from their troubled situation, they might find themselves challenged by a well-established competition,” said Nadejda Popova, airlines analyst at market researchers Euromonitor International.

But she added that in the case of Egypt: “With the right approach… it could recover faster than we can now foresee.”

Derek Moore, chairman of Britain’s Association of Independent Tour Operators, said that following the crash “the key to air travel… will be the reputation of particular airports.

“A holiday involving a flight back from a potentially ‘risky’ airport would probably not be seen as OK,” Moore said.

Any decline in tourist numbers to areas seen as risky could be a gain for other travel spots.



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