CAIRO”•A year after jihadists bombed a Russian plane carrying holidaymakers in Egypt, tourism shows little sign of recovery in the Arab country grappling with an economic crisis.
In Khan el-Khalil, a historic bazaar in Cairo once full of tourists, a clothing store owner says he now spends his days surfing Facebook.
“I don’t have anything else to do,” said Amgad Qasabgi, 45, in front of his shop, a sequined two-piece belly dancing outfit dangling over his head.
The October 31, 2015 bombing of the plane claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group killed all 224 people on board after takeoff from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Russia reacted by canceling all flights to Egypt, with Britain canceling flights to the resort town itself, decimating a tourism sector already battered by unrest following the country’s 2011 revolution.
Citizens of the two countries make up around 40 percent of the foreign tourists to Egypt.
The drop in tourism revenues, a main source of foreign hard currency, has exacerbated a dollar shortage in Egypt that in turn has hit imports.
Government officials have blamed a foreign conspiracy targeting the Egyptian economy, while unveiling slick commercials to try to woo back the tourists.
“There are no foreign tourists,” said Qasabgi, a father of five. “Spending by Egyptian tourists does not cover our daily expenses.”
The bazaar’s cafeterias and restaurants are empty save for some Egyptian families and strolling students.
A few tourists hopped off two buses parked at a plaza in front of the nearby Hussein mosque, but most returned without buying any souvenirs.
“Tourism has totally died,” said Abdel Rahman, a salesman at a large store specializing in lanterns and inscribed silver chandeliers.
A family of European tourists enters the shop and haggles over a small lamp. They leave empty-handed.