Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Sharm al-Sheikh on Wednesday in what he said was a message of support for investors and businesses in the wake of a Russian airliner crash that has sparked a costly suspension of foreign flights.
“The lights will not be going out in Sharm al-Sheikh’, he said.
But as he spoke, dozens of people protested outside one nearby hotel over lay-offs.
Responding to Western suspicions that the plane was destroyed by a bomb, Sisi told reporters:
“I want to say that we should not jump to conclusions before the results of the investigations. We will be clear and transparent in announcing the results…We will not hide anything.”
Thousands of Russian and British tourists have already left though and several other European countries have halted flights in the wake of last month’s crash which killed all 224 people on board.
Sinai Province, an ISIL-affiliate, says it brought down the plane.
President Sisi said no effort would be spared to ensure holidaymakers’ safety but the impact on Egypt’s crucial tourism industry is already being felt, with Britain’s and Russia’s decision to suspend flights set to cost the country some 260 million euros a month according to Egyptian Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou.
Zaazou said he would seek to make up for the loss of international business by encouraging domestic tourism, as well as encouraging Gulf Arab visitors and easing visa requirements for tourists from North Africa.
He said he planned a public relations campaign to promote Egypt in Britain and Russia and win back tourism from those countries, which account for two thirds of foreign visitors to the beach and diving holiday destination.
Sisi echoed that message during his visit to Sharm al-Sheikh.
“Egypt is secure, stable and safe and welcomes your people,” he said.
“They will come to Egypt peacefully and leave peacefully and we will do all we can to protect and look after them”.
Some who make a living in Sharm al-Sheikh are striving to keep hope alive that the resort can survive this crisis.