Attack Casts Pall on World Travel Market

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LONDON -- Egyptian Tourism Minister Mamdough El-Beltagui expressed shock and sorrow for the "cowardly act" by the Islamic militant group and vowed to "take a look at tourist security and safety for all nationalities."

The terrorist attack cast a pall over the opening day of World Travel Market here and brought activity at the Egyptian pavilion to a standstill. The minister and his staff abandoned their stand shortly after learning of the attack, leaving behind some two dozen land and Nile River operators to man the exhibit until the close of business.

A spokesman for AKA Travel Service, a Red Sea specialist based in Cairo, called on the Egyptian government to provide better security at tourist sites. "There is always heightened security after an incident occurs, but we need to act in advance," he said. "The government should consider collecting money from all of the Egyptian travel companies to offset the cost of additional security, but, of course, this would make us raise prices and, perhaps, lose our competitive edge in the market."

Abdou Abd Azim, general director for Europe at Misr, Egypt's state-run tour operator and the country's largest travel company, agreed, saying, "We need to come up with a plan that will make people feel safe." After nine German tourists were killed in front of the Egyptian Museum in September when their bus was firebombed, Misr's business dropped 20%, Azim said, adding that the firm's bookings quickly rebounded.

Samir Shama, president of Pilot Tours in Hurghada, a Red Sea resort, said he was worried about the effect of the massacre on his business. "What can we do?" he asked, reflecting the exasperated mood of his colleagues here.

The Islamic Group told news organizations that the Luxor attack would not be the last, and it warned tourists to stay away from Egypt.

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