Egypt tourism actors hope the results of the elections will make a positive impact on the crisis torn industry.
As of late last week, the Muslim Brotherhood had declared
victory, but amid allegations of voter fraud, Egyptian officials had postponed
an official announcement of results.
The latter, they fear, could mean less tolerance toward
non-Islamic visitors, which in turn would further damage an already
“There are a lot of questions if the candidate from the
Muslim Brotherhood becomes president,” said Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Big
Five Tours and Expeditions. “But the fact that the vote is split so evenly...
does mitigate what happens with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Sanghrajka was alluding to the Brotherhood’s claim of
victory by a relatively slim margin: 52% for Morsi and 48% for Shafik.
Moreover, days before the voting began, Egypt’s military
asserted rights and authority that many interpreted as a bloodless coup. The
move raised serious questions about how, when and to what extent Egypt’s
military will transfer power to the new president.
And, since the military is believed to be sympathetic to
maintaining Egypt’s secular traditions, it is not clear to what extent a Muslim
Brotherhood victory might change official attitudes toward Westerners and thus
the country’s tourism industry.
Mohammed Fayed of Guardian Travel, an Egypt specialist
based in Virginia, said, “It’s confusing for everyone on the ground there. But
still, there is hope. Whoever wins, let’s go ahead and move on with our lives.”
If Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, becomes the
next president of Egypt, “it’s something new for everyone,” Fayed said. “We
don’t know. Tourism-wise, yes, it might have a small effect.”
Fayed was alluding to suggestions by other Muslim
Brotherhood candidates during the campaign that a Morsi-led government might
take a more conservative approach to tourism: for example, requesting visitors
to refrain from wearing revealing beachwear.
He was hopeful that the rebound would continue once the
dust settles on the presidential election and pieces of the political landscape
fall into place.
The reason for his hope, Sanghrajka said, is that “all
those people who have been protesting in Egypt, they’re going to get what
they’ve been asking for: change.”
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