Cairo: Egypt's tourism industry, still reeling from political upheavals in the country, will further suffer after the US killing of Al Qaeda's leader Osama Bin Laden, say experts.
"The situation will worsen as visitors from Western countries will think twice before coming to the Arab countries, including Egypt," said Mahmoud Hasouna, the manager of a travel agency in Cairo.
"They will be haunted by fears of being the target of terror operations," Hasouna told Gulf News. "The repercussions of Bin Laden's death will hit the Egyptian tourism, which has not recovered yet from the unstable situation in the country."
Tourism, a key foreign earner for Egypt, has been among the sectors hard hit by the massive protests that toppled long-standing president Hosni Mubarak last February.
The Egyptian tourism lost around 440 million dollars in February, when tourist arrivals dropped by 80.3 per cent compared to the same month in 2010, according to the state-run Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.
In 2009, the industry pumped 11 billion dollars into the national economy, making up around 10 per cent of the gross domestic product, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
"We expect violent responses from al-Qaeda to Bin Laden's killing. This will certainly keep tourist visitors away from Egypt," said Sayed Mahrous, a tour guide.
"I have been out of job for almost three months now due to instability in Egypt. Until this weekend (when the news of Bin Laden's death was announced), I had a hope that the situation would improve and the tourists would return to Egypt," he added. "Now I am sure that the suffering will prolong."
The US on Monday issued a worldwide travel alert to its nationals, fearing a violent backlash from Bin Laden's followers. The alert will be in effect until August 1.
Egyptian authorities have, meanwhile, tightened security around the US embassy and other Western diplomatic missions in Cairo for fear of reprisal attacks by Al Qaeda operatives or groups inspired by their ideology.
"The advice made to the Americans against travelling to Arab countries adds to the dilemma of the Egyptian tourism, which has been suffering a series of setbacks over recent years," said Shukri Faysal, an assistant manager in a Cairo-based travel company.
"It is true that the Egyptian tourism proved resilient to setbacks in the past. This time is different because fears of terror acts cover all destinations popular with foreign tourists," he told this newspaper.
Around 58 foreign tourists were killed in an attack in a temple in the southern Egyptian town of Luxor in 1997 blamed on Muslim militants.
In 2005, around 88 people, mostly Egyptians, were killed in a series of bombings in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm Al Sheikh.