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Skydivers Promote Tourism Industry in Egypt

  • Hamada Elrasam

In an effort to boost Egypt's flagging tourism industry, skydivers recently took part in a high-flying competition over Egypt's Great Pyramids.

Participants say the event was aimed at attracting more visitors to the country, as Egypt has suffered a $1.3 billion drop in tourism revenue over the past few months.

More than 200 skydivers from 17 countries took part in the recent three-day competition, with participants jumping from helicopters more than 1,100 meters high, and aiming for specific targets on land.

The event, organizers say, sends a message to the world.

"Egypt is strong and it will never be affected by all the chaos going on,” said General Soliman El-Hadary of the Egyptian Union for Air Sports. “We want to emphasize to the world that our country is safe and tourists are welcome."

A skydiver from Morocco lands during a skydiving competition by Giza Pyramids in Egypt, March 2, 2016. (H. Elrasam/VOA)

A skydiver from Morocco lands during a skydiving competition by Giza Pyramids in Egypt, March 2, 2016. (H. Elrasam/VOA)

Tourism is one of the most important sectors of Egypt's economy.

The suspected terrorist downing of a Russian plane over North Sinai last year badly hurt the tourism industry, driving away nearly 4 million tourists.

But to bring them back, analysts say, Egypt needs to not only better market the industry, but review its security policies.

"You need first of all to assess all the counterterrorism strategies that have been going on for the past two years, because Egypt has been in an official open war against terrorism since 2013. So where did that go? Where did that lead? How effective were these strategies?” said Ziad Akl of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “This needs to be reviewed and, on the other hand, the tourism sector needs to be marketed in a lot more professional manner than it is right now."

While sporting events are good publicity, he says, the government needs to do more to support and protect the tourism industry.

Audience members watch skydivers jump from a helicopter during a skydiving competition in Egypt. More than 200 skydivers from 17 countries are participating in the 3-day competition, March 2, 2016. (H. Elrasam/VOA)

Audience members watch skydivers jump from a helicopter during a skydiving competition in Egypt. More than 200 skydivers from 17 countries are participating in the 3-day competition, March 2, 2016. (H. Elrasam/VOA)

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