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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 July, 2005, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Egypt fears tourism crisis after attack
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Sharm al-Sheikh

Egyptian security men check the remains of a bombed car at Sharm el-Sheik old market
Locals hope tourists will return to Sharm al-Sheikh later in the year
Foreigners are trickling out of hotels here, making their way home.

It is now tourist buses and taxis carrying departing tourists which form the traffic jams, not the emergency vehicles which lined the streets in the immediate aftermath of the bombings.

But Egyptians living here do not have the option of leaving.

They have been hit harder than anyone by the attacks, victims twice over. Most of those who died here were Egyptians, but as well as destroying lives, the bombings have also struck the economy.

Flies buzz in the quiet of Hosni's shop. He has no customers.

He sleeps here now too. With the windows destroyed in the blasts, he says he cannot afford to lose his stock.

"I think all the tourists are ready to fly away from here. But I hope they will come in August. They will come. Sharm al-Sheikh is very nice. It is a beautiful place."

He believes the bombers must be outsiders. No Egyptian, he says, would bomb Sharm al-Sheikh. They would know the main casualties would be fellow Egyptians.

I think all the tourists are ready to fly away from here. But I hope they will come in August
Hosni, shop owner
The tears in Yahir's eyes show all too clearly the pain local people here are feeling. You wouldn't want his job these days.

A rubbish collector at the resort, his patch covers the scenes of one of the explosions - a taxi rank close to the tourist hotels. He can see for himself what the bombers have inflicted.

He says he has a message for them.

"May God retaliate on them. Those are people that have no religion, no morals. There is no difference between Egyptians and foreigners. We are all human beings."

People are still sweeping up the rubble and debris from the bombings.

Tarpaulin has gone up around the shattered Gazala Gardens hotel, and officials have begun questioning people.

As more tourists pack up and leave, the authorities are trying hard to minimise the damage to Egypt's valuable industry.

Rebuilding Egypt's economy will mean rebuilding confidence in its security.

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