By Maydaa Abo El-Nadar
Following the Russian plane crash in Sinai earlier this week, fears have been reignited that Egypt’s barely-recovering tourism industry has taken another major blow – especially as the crash comes just two months after Mexican tourists were accidentally targeted and killed by the Egyptian armed forces.
Statements by Metrojet that the plane did not malfunction and that the crash could only have been caused by “external forces” have raised questions over whether it could have been a militant attack, and prompted many airlines to reroute flights that normally fly over the restive Sinai Peninsula.
“Of course the plane crash will have its negative influence on the tourism market,” Hungarian psychologist Nóra Franczia said. The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not recommend that their citizens to visit the northern and central regions of the Sinai Peninsula, and Egypt as a whole is considered a high security risk. Eastern Europe tourists represent the majority of foreign tourism in Egypt.
Slovenian ambassador in Egypt Tanja Miškova previously told Daily News Egypt that due to security reasons, Slovenians tourism websites do not recommend visiting areas other than Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh, two very popular destinations for Slovenians.
“We still cannot recommend Slovenians visit other parts in Egypt because of the current security situation,” she said. It is expected that after the plane crash, warning levels against travelling to Egypt could be raised.
Several international airways, including Lufthansa, Air France, and Etihad Airways restricted their flights away from the Sinai Peninsula until further notice, which will directly affect ticket prices to Egypt.
Moreover, public opinion suggests the Russian plane’s crash discouraged many Eastern European tourists to visit Egypt. “Before this news, I would feel safe visiting Egypt but now that it happened, I am not sure, especially since media is saying terrorists might have shot [the plane] down,” Serbian citizen Strahinja Simić told Daily News Egypt.
Others were not affected by the news of the plane crash but have been concerned by the previous unfortunate chain of accidents to tourists, Slovak citizen Zuzana Štefaniková told Daily News Egypt.
“Based on the information available, the plane crash was caused by the bad technical condition of the plane,” Alisa Panasenko from Ukraine said.
“Tourists are more concerned by political instability and security issues in Egypt, such as bombings in Sharm El-Sheikh. I think travellers will visit it despite of this accident. Of course there are people who are always afraid and those kind of travellers will refuse to visit Egypt.”