Egypt will make every effort to keep tourists safe, President Abdel Fattah Sisi pledged Wednesday as he visited Sharm el-Sheikh in the wake of the suspected bombing of a plane packed with vacationers.
The country will also be transparent with the results of investigations into the cause of the October 31 crash, which killed all 224 people on board a Russian Metrojet plane, he said.
His visit to the Red Sea resort city came after the head of the region's travel agents' association said the fallout from the crash could slash tourism income in Sharm al-Sheikh by half.
Suspicions that the plane was brought down by a bomb prompted Russia, the United Kingdom and several other European countries to halt travel to and from the city.
Sisi checked out security at the airport – where it is feared an explosive device may have been placed on the Airbus A321 – and met with tourists.
"We will announce the results of the investigation with complete transparency and clarity,” he told local state television. “We will not hide anything because these are human lives, innocent citizens who came to visit Egypt. We are extremely cautious to ensure that anyone who visits our country will be safe and will travel to and from the country in peace."
He added: “Egypt is safe and secure, and I welcome citizens to come Egypt, and they will leave safely as well. We will exert every effort to protect them.”
Egypt’s tourism minister Hisham Zaazou said Egypt stands to lose USD $20 million in November from Britain and Russia's decision to suspend flights.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism directly accounts for around six percent of Egypt’s economy and supports more than 1.3 million jobs. Sharm al-Sheikh accounts for about 70 percent of visits by Britons, a major tourism market for Egypt.
On Tuesday, Guevara el-Gafy, chairman of the South Sinai Travel Agents Association, said: "Losing 40 percent of our clients will lead to losing around 50 percent of the tourism income in Sharm al-Sheikh and South Sinai.”
He told Reuters: "The problem is that the plane crash occurred at the beginning of the season... Sharm al-Sheikh and South Sinai are winter destinations.”