Egypt makes more tourist safety promises after Hurghada hotel attack
Hurghada hotel claims attack was by 'drugged young men' with a 'plastic gun' as minister promises greater security for tourists after recent incidents
Egypt's tourism minister promised additional security measures to protect tourists, following the second attack on a hotel in two days.
Three tourists were injured in a knife attack at the Bella Vista Hotel in Hurghada on Friday night, a day after an Isil-claimed attack at a hotel near the Giza pyramids.
"The welfare of the tourists visiting Egypt is of the greatest importance to us and will continue to be so. No stone will be left unturned to ensure their security," Hisham Zaazou said.
“Even greater security measures” will be announced in coming days to protect visitors to the country, he added - without giving further details on what they might entail.
The Hurghada attack took place as tourists were having dinner on Friday night at the 270-room Bella Vista hotel in the popular Red Sea resort. Two men carrying knives stormed the restaurant, injuring a Swedish woman and an elderly Austrian couple. The assailants were shot by security officers, leaving one dead and the other wounded.
The guests left hospital and returned to the hotel yesterday afternoon, according to staff contacted by Telegraph Travel. A member of reception staff said that the two Austrians and one Swede injured in the attack returned for a party in their honour, with images of the event shared on social media.
The hotel’s Facebook page shows photos of the guests with bandages being offered drinks and flowers.
The resort claimed that the assailants were “drugged young men” who used “a fake gun (plastic)” and “small knives” to try to stab guests. The message, written on Bella Vista’s Facebook page, said that the incident lasted four minutes.
Hurghada has been left relatively untouched by attacks on tourists up until now, with previous incidents targeting Sharm el-Sheikh and the temples at Luxor. EasyJet flights to Hurghada today are understood to be operating normally. The resort is a popular winter sun destination with British and European holidaymakers, sitting across the Gulf of Suez from Sharm el-Sheikh, and accessible via a desert road from Cairo or Luxor.
The Foreign Office does not currently advise against travel to Cairo, Giza or the Red Sea coast, including Hurghada, but recommended British nationals in the resort “stay alert and follow the advice of the local authorities.” It temporarily set up an emergency hotline for affected Britons.
It explains that there are security forces situated at Hurghada international airport and at checkpoints around the town’s perimeter. “Routine security checks are being performed on entry into the airport and the police are carrying out vehicle checks in the town”, its travel advice currently says.
Egypt’s beleaguered tourism industry has suffered as a result of political instability following the 2011 revolution.
The gun and firework attack on Thursday at the Three Pyramids Hotel in Giza, a short drive from the famous ancient burial site, left no one injured but caused significant damage to the hotel’s glass façade and a tourist bus parked nearby.
Mr Zaazou did not reveal details of the “greater security measures” to protect tourists, so it remains to be seen how effective they will be.
Reassurances may be of little comfort to potential visitors and those working in Egypt’s tourism industry, who have suffered greatly as a result of the visitor drought.
In November last year, a Russian plane was shot down as it left Sharm el-Sheikh airport, in an attack claimed by Isil that killed all 224 people on board.
The incident prompted the British Foreign Office to cancel all flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh and advise against all but essential travel by air to the resort.
Like at Hurghada, it says there are, “Enhanced security measures” in place at Sharm el-Sheikh, including check points, vehicle checks and security forces situated at the airport. All airlines have cancelled flights until mid-February at the earliest - although tour operators are still selling holidays to the resort for later next year.
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