Egypt Expects Quick Tourism Recovery after Attacks, but Could Lose Billions in Meantime

Nation's tourism minister faces challenges of decline of tourism following terror attacks at resort area

Some 30,000 Italian tourists were in Egypt at the time of the attacks, with 80 percent in Sharm, said the Italian Foreign Ministry. Travel operators estimated that another 9,000 Britons, 2,500 Germans and more from other European nations were in the resort at the time of the attacks.

In London, the Association of British Travel Agents sounded more upbeat, but spokeswoman Frances Tuke said some Britons have cut short their Egyptian holidays.

"Holiday companies are carrying on with tours to Sharm el-Sheik and to Egypt generally," Tuke said. "Tour operators are in contact with the Foreign Office and with the Egyptian tourist office people who have assured us that security is being stepped up in Sharm el-Sheik."

German travel operator TUI said about 250 of the company's 1,600 customers in Sharm and nearby areas had opted to return home. Another firm, Thomas Cook, said it was bringing 100 of its 813 German customers in the region back Sunday.

Several German firms are offering customers booked to travel to Egypt this summer the chance to switch to other destinations, but only a "very few" tourists in Egypt currently want to return, Klaus Laepple of the Association of German Travel Agents and Tour Operators told ZDF television.

"However, in the long term, we expect of course that this will have a substantial effect on tourism in Egypt," said Laepple.