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Empty holiday spots pressure Egypt's economy

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Empty holiday spots pressure Egypt's economy

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With the Pyramids all but deserted and hotels virtually empty, the few visitors who have not abandoned their Egyptian holidays are being greeted like heroes by tour guides.

The democracy protest that toppled Mubarak sent more than one million tourists fleeing in hurried evacuation flights – a major blow to the country’s biggest economic sector.

Near the Pyramids, Romanian tourist Ustiena Yuariano said: “We heard about all the problems, the political situation here in Cairo, but I feel safe, I don’t see anything bad here, so it’s OK, it’s nice.”

February is the peak time for Egypt’s tourism season. Fifteen million people visited last year and the sector earned an estimated 9.6 billion euros.

In the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh tourists were few and far between, but happy they had come. One British visitor said: “We were concerned beforehand but once we got here, we were more than happy, we really have enjoyed ourselves,”

Others said they felt honoured to be there at this historic time and had joined in the celebrations when Mubarak quit.

Meanwhile for ordinary Egyptians getting cash to buy food remains a struggle.

Banks were closed again on Monday as some of their employees went on strike over low wages and poor working conditions which meant long lines at cash machines.

The banks are also closed on Tuesday for a religious holiday.