European tourists no longer jostle on hotel dance floors and many sunbeds on the pristine beaches of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt lie empty, but although business at the Red Sea resort is languishing, there are hopes that a new leader will restore stability and create the confidence that will bring the tourists back.
If the ubiquitous campaign posters are anything to go by, former Egyptian Armed Forces commander-in-chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is the favorite to win next week’s presidential election — posters of his rival, leftist Egyptian Popular Current leader Hamdeen Sabbahi, are nowhere to be seen.
Al-Sisi overthrew former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July last year, unleashing the bloodiest period in the country’s recent history, and now pledges to bring order and revive the economy.
Tourism revenues, already hurt by the 2011 uprising that overthrew former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, fell from US$12.5 billion in 2010 to US$5.8 billion last year.
Al-Sisi’s support campaign in Sharm el-Sheikh is coordinated by a former intelligence officer who now works in tourism, while hotel manager Gina el-Gafy works the phones to organize a pro-al-Sisi rally in the evenings, while supervising more than 200 hotel workers.
“We need stability, especially in Sinai, and that would happen sooner if the army takes control,” she said, referring to the peninsula where Sharm el-Sheikh is located.
While south Sinai is dotted with resorts, the lawless north is a base for militants who have launched attacks across the country, mostly targeting policemen and soldiers.
In February, a suicide bomber struck a bus carrying South Korean tourists in the south Sinai resort town of Taba. The attack further scared off tourists and left an industry that had employed about 4 million people at its peak scrounging.
Despite such attacks, Egyptian Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou said that media coverage of the unrest has given “a negative message and is overblown.”
“Most incidents of violence are within university grounds,” he said of the regular pro-Morsi student protesters’ clashes with police. “All tourist destinations in Egypt are quite safe and sound.”
At a Sharm el-Sheikh now crawling with uniformed and plain-clothes police officers, tourists say they feel safe.
“There’s nothing to fear,” a British tourist who identified herself as Kim said as she sat in a Bedouin-themed cafe.
Yet others are not as sanguine and el-Gafy has furloughed part of her team for lack of work. Even though she has dropped her room rates by 20 percent, occupancy is still only at 60 to 70 percent.
While the large hotels have managed to scrape by, the crisis is hitting the smaller enterprises hardest.
Mostafa el-Menufi, 40, said he could no longer afford to feed his family on what he makes from a small store that sells water pipes.
“We used to earn good money in Sharm el-Sheikh. Now I earn less and the rent stays as it is,” he said.
El-Menufi said he trusted a strong candidate from the military for president to help bring back the tourists.
The owner of a Bedouin cafe down the road, who refused to give his name, disagreed.
The police, untrammeled under Mubarak, are now returning to their old ways and “it will be worse” under al-Sisi, the cafe owner said.
Yet this is a trade-off many other Egyptians are willing to make: the freedoms promised by the 2011 uprising for an end to the tumult it has ushered in.
‘BIG LOSS’: This year might see the last generation of Huawei’s Kirin chips, as their production would stop next month because they are made using US technology Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and would be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive has said, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from US pressure. Huawei, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. Washington last year cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, and those penalties were tightened in May, when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US
CORPORATE SCANDAL: Cathay Life has invested NT$13.3 billion in Bank Mayapada since 2015, but the latest loss of NT$8.8 billion has completely written off its investment Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday said it would recognize an investment loss of NT$8.8 billion (US$298.1 million) in Indonesia’s Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk PT due to concerns about the lender’s operations amid a corporate scandal. The company said it would revise its earnings result for June, from a net profit of NT$6.52 billion to a net loss of NT$520 million, its first monthly loss over the past 17 months. After booking an investment loss of NT$5.2 billion in Bank Mayapada earlier this year, Cathay Life has so far recognized total investment losses of NT$14 billion in the lender, executive vice president
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday reported that revenue last month expanded 25 percent annually, but fell 12.8 percent month-on-month to NT$105.96 billion (US$3.59 billion). In the first seven months of this year, the chipmaker’s revenue surged 33.6 percent to NT$727.26 billion, compared with NT$544.46 billion a year earlier. TSMC has said it aims to grow its revenue by more than 20 percent this year. The company has since May 15 stopped taking new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為), its second-biggest customer after Apple Inc, due to the US’ restrictions on exports containing US technologies. TSMC has no plans to
The US stock market has been on a tear, yet the country’s economy is in the dumps. So why do so many people believe — undoubtedly incorrectly — that the stock market has decoupled from reality? The economy many people experience, while bleak, is local, personal and, for the most part, either not publicly traded or plays only a small part in the stock market’s moves. To explain why these personal experiences have so little effect on equity markets, we must look more closely at the market role of the weakest industry sectors. The surprising conclusion: The most visible and economically vulnerable