Resort security upgraded - Egypt

Sinai from space (Nasa, AFP)
Sinai from space (Nasa, AFP)

Cairo - The Egyptian government will spend $32m to upgrade security in two Red Sea resorts popular with foreign tourists in the wake of recent attacks on hotels and the suspected terror bombing of a Russian airliner, the tourism minister said on Thursday.

The move is designed to restore confidence in the safety of the country's tourist attractions. According to the minister, Hisham Zaazou, the plan is to expand the use of security cameras, scanning and detection equipment and sniffer dogs in the towns of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.

Additional security personnel will also be deployed there, he said.

"The security of visitors to Egypt remains our highest priority," Zaazou said in a statement. "I believe that these new measures will further add to the security of our resorts while not being intrusive to tourists so they can get on with enjoying their holidays."

The government's decision comes after two attacks earlier this month that targeted hotels frequented by foreign tourists in Cairo and Hurghada. No one was hurt in the Cairo attack, but three tourists - two Austrians and a Swede - were stabbed in Hurghada.

Tourism numbers fell sharply in the tumultuous five years since the 2011 popular uprising ousted Egypt's long serving autocrat Hosni Mubarak. A long running Islamic insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula intensified after the 2013 ouster by the military of Mubarak's successor, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, worsening tourism woes.

The industry was further decimated after the October crash of the Russian airliner over Sinai that killed all 224 people on board shortly after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh. Russia said the plane was likely brought down by a home-made bomb and a local affiliate of the extremist Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. The IS said it planted the bomb inside a soda can.

Russia suspended all flights to Egypt in response to the crash and Britain halted flights to Sharm el-Sheikh - decisions that have robbed Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada of two of their biggest customers.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says that security has been tightened in the country's airports since the crash.

Last month, Egypt said it has hired a British consultancy, Control Risks, to help boost airport security and ensure that Egyptian airports comply with international standards.

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