(TheBlaze/AP) — Egypt’s tour guides are rallying to protest the lack of security at tourist attractions, claiming they are attacked by souvenir vendors and unlicensed competitors fighting for turf at famed sites like the Valley of the Kings tombs in Luxor or Cairo’s medieval citadel.
Tourism, a top foreign currency earner, has suffered from the turmoil following the 2011 uprising that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Revenue dropped by roughly a third in 2011 alone, the country’s officials claim.
“There is no security. This is not a joke,” said Dina Yacoub, a 29-year-old guide who said she was punched in the face three times last month when an angry citizen tried to cut in line for a small train at the Cairo citadel and she protested.
She added: “We are asking tourists to come back … how would they unless there is security?”
Faten Abou Ali, a spokesman for the guides’ union, says President Mohammed Morsi’s new government is not paying attention to the industry.
“They are forgetting tourism. They are only talking about long term projects,” he said. “Tourism … can bring in lots of cash. They need to open it up … They need to tell us, do they want tourism or not?”
About 150 guides gathered outside Cairo’s Egyptian Museum Sunday. A spokeswoman for the guides, Gladys Haddad, says 40 attacks against guides were recorded over the last year, including harassment of women.
In one case a tour guide apparently objected to a vendor harassing one of his tourists, and was hit over the head with a miniature statue.
“We work in the hospitality business. If we don’t have those tools [then] we should shut it and let tourists go to neighboring Israel and let her make all the money,” Raji Banna, a 36-year old guide, said.
“If Islamist groups and the current government don’t want to promote tourism, then tell us to go home.”