People gather in Cairo’s international airport while waiting to check-in for their flights, as they try to leave Egypt following days of violent anti-government protests in three decades in a bid to topple President Hosni Mubarak's creaking regime. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The political unrest in Egypt may have only a short-term impact on hotels, cruises, hospitality development, and travel cancellations, as the Egyptian tourism industry has seen its share of calamities over the past years and will likely bounce back once the dust settles, industry insiders say.

The 12-day protest, which recently turned violent, is costing the tourism industry $1 billion in losses in the past nine days as 1 million tourists left Egypt during the turmoil, Vice President Omar Sulaiman said in an interview on state television.

Winter is the peak season for tourism in Egypt when it attracts European and American travellers.

Nile cruise ship bookings have “reduced completely” and fleets have gradually stopped their trips as foreigners are evacuated by their embassies, said Osama Bushra, COO of Travco Dubai, part of Egyptian-based Travco Group, one of the largest travel companies in the Middle East.

Its Jaz Hotels in the Red Sea have seen a 30 to 40 per cent drop in occupancy, he said. “People are panicked and uncertain even though nothing happened in the Red Sea.”

Tourists have either left or cancelled travel plans in Luxor and Aswan and those left there are worried about food supplies, Bushra said. They have paid packages with vouchers for food and drink but food suppliers want cash from the hotels during these turbulent times, he explained.

“Hotels have dramatically reduced their rates to attract customers through the price barrier,” said Ahmad Al Gibaly, Chairman and CEO of Online Media Egypt, a publishing, marketing and business development firm with clients in the hospitality industry.

“We have seen many dark days before, surely we will recover from this too,” said Al Gibaly. “The tourism industry has the strongest stamina. We have seen worst things… the industry is used to crisis management.”

Read the full story in Sunday’s print edition of Gulf News