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Upheaval Crushes Tourism in Egypt


The military's ouster of Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi is only the latest upheaval for a country in which two years ago, the people with the backing of the military overthrew longtime-ruler Hosni Mubarak. The changes from the upheaval have been historic - but have come with a cost.

Tourism in Egypt has been the country's major source of cash. Until two years ago when revolution hit the streets.

Magdi Sheko says the constant upheaval has scared away tourists. The economy, he says, is a disaster.

“There is no business by the way. We are dying here. We are broke. And no-one feel us here in Egypt,” he said.

It is not just souvenir sellers in Cairo who are suffering. At the famous pyramids of Giza, normally there would be tour buses coming up and down the road, but now the people working here say tourism has dropped off and business is bad.

Saeed has been working here for 45 years. He says that now tourists are no longer coming to Giza Square, and he blames Morsi supporters for the problem this past year.

Tourist sector workers say the unrest on Egypt's streets and Morsi's Islamist rule almost destroyed the industry.

Even upscale restaurant owners are suffering. The “Armada,” a multiple deck cruise boat on the Nile, is practically empty.

There are 30 cooks on the payroll but almost no-one to cook for, says general manager Ziad el-Minabbawi.

“The tourism is one of our biggest income after the Suez Canal, so you can imagine what happens to your second biggest income when it drops 90 percent. It is a catastrophe,” he said.

Mahmoud Atif Tartour learned the camel business from his father and grandfather. But without tourists looking for camel rides, he has had to sell four of his 12 camels.

“If there is no tourists, how will we work? How will we feed our camels? How will we feed ourselves? So, we can not, so we actually can not handle one more year. It is going to kill us like that,” he said.

Like many in the tourism business here, Tartour hopes with the Muslim Brotherhood out of power, things will begin settle in Egypt. And they hope the tourists will return.
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    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

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