Monday, November 30, 2015

Nefertiti won't save Egypt this time

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that even if they find a secret chamber with the greatest ancient treasures ever found, it will not save the Egyptian tourism industry. Egypt already has some amazing stuff. Tourists aren't staying away for lack of fantastic things to see, they are staying away because Egypt is increasingly perceived as being dangerous.

Just yesterday, four policemen were killed at Saqqara, a tourist site just outside of Cairo1 with the Islamic State claiming responsibility. I doubt if the gunmen will be caught (and if the police catch anyone, there will be serious questions whether they found the actual perp or if they just rounded up the usual suspects) and I have even less doubt that this kind of thing can and probably will happen again. The violence is not just limited to the hinterlands of Sinai. When violent people are able to freely attack right in the spots that would attract tourists, tourists will not return in any significant numbers to Egypt.

And, let's face it, if you are trying to hurt the Egyptian government, attacking tourists is a great way to do it. It causes tremendous harm to the Egyptian economy, perpetuates the idea that the government is not able to deliver stability, and thus undermines Sisi's only real claim to legitimacy. With those kinds of incentives at work, no cave of treasure will be enough to fill the hotels in Cairo.

1-Look at my holiday photos of Saqqara!