Holidays Under Gunfire: When Terrorists are Targeting Tourists
The terror attacks in Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey have had a devastating effect on the country's tourism trade. The conflicts and political upheaval of the Arab Spring had already deterred many from taking the holiday by the southern Mediterranean. Images of the attacks at Istanbul airport and on a Russian holiday flight over the Sinai, still linger in peoples' minds, and are determining the holiday destinations of millions of Europeans. On this beach in Sousse, the terror attack that rocked Tunisia played out on June the 26th, 2015. The journalist, Mabrouka Khedir, was at the scene of the crime a few moments after it happened, in front of the Imperial Marhaba Hotel. She saw things she will never be able to forget.
It was complete chaos. Tourists on the ground, shot. Blood was flowing into the seawater and the water in the pool. These were images almost too hard to bear. On the beach, and in the Imperial Marhaba Hotel, Seifeddine Yacoubi, a student, killed 38 guests, most of them British. He took aim and opened fire with a Kalashnikov.
Sometime later, he was killed by the police. The hotel is still closed today. It was a terror attack that traumatized the country and its people like no other. I was ashamed. This is not my Tunisia, this is not our country. This is not why we invite tourists.
To come here to see and experience that was deeply sad. I hope Tunisia never has to go through something like that again. The terror attack of a single assassin trained by the IS in neighboring Libya cleared out the beaches of Tunisia in one go. Many hotels were forced to close. Madame Idriss, owner of the Imperial Marhaba Hotel, let her employees go. She only survived the crisis because she also owned other hotels.
It was hell for me, for my clients, for the staff, for the city of Sousse, for the whole country and beyond Tunisia The terrorists want to attack the country's economy. Tourism is one of the main foundations of our economy. Eight hundred thousand people work directly and indirectly in the tourism industry. The consequences were even more dramatic in Djerba than in Sousse.
Tourism collapses by 80 percent, a crash that affects every family on the island. As tourism is the most important source of income for the population. Thousands of employees were let go. Souad Aliyani worked in a senior position at the hotel for 23 years. When it suddenly closed a few months ago, everyone was made redundant. There was no talk of any redundancy wage.
The hotel owner disappeared abroad. Just closing all the doors and leaving us by the wayside, it doesn't work like that. Then the people complain there is terrorism, but that's how you create terrorism. It's their fault.
The problem needs to be solved quickly. I am speaking my mind. Others spend their evenings crying full of despair at home because they don't know a way out. Souad's husband, Semi also lost his job at the hotel. He has to sell the family car. Many sell their cars as social and financial decline looms.
Semi Aliyani has found a new job as a security worker, but his income is now much lower. We are in serious financial difficulties. I can't manage to cover the mortgage on my wife's house by myself anymore. We are forced to sell the car to pay the mortgage.
If we don't do that, the banks will be merciless. We end up in court. This time, selling the car wasn't possible.
There are too many on offer. The low prices are ruining the market. Souad Aliyani worries every day.
Soon, the family will not be able to meet their payments. One hundred and fifty euros a month is all that remains for a family of five. That is barely enough for food, let alone school books and uniforms for the children. She has asked the state for support, but received none. I have never owed the state anything. Now after 23 years, it is giving me the cold shoulder.
I should sue, but the lawyer needs a deposit. A court bailiff also costs something before he does his work. Without my wage, we can cover these costs.
With a single wage, we may as well go and beg. If things don't change we are very scared. It's not just us, all my colleagues who worked in tourism are suffering We hope that this crisis is over soon. If the tourists continue to stay away from Djerba, poverty threatens to take hold of the island once more. On the market in Houmt Souk, throngs of visitors used to jostle past the stalls.
Tourists from Britain and Germany, in particular, were fond of vacationing in Djerba. Today, Lofti Chehit and his tradesmen are waiting for customers in vain. He cannot live off the few local sales.
It's only thanks to his savings that he can manage to keep his shop open. We have a little income from the Tunisians, a few Algerians come. For the rest of the year, it is only locals that are here.
That is not enough to cover costs. This situation has forced many people to leave their work. People no longer find jobs. Many illegally flee to Europe. Everyone is looking for alternatives. Lofti is still waiting for customers eight hours later.
Patiently, he advises them. He mourns the disappearance of Europeans who like to spend money. The visit to the bazaar was a popular activity for many of them. [Arabic spoken audio] It takes two hours to bring the goods inside.
He works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, but remains patient and friendly regardless. I sold maybe two or three things. This morning there was a little with the Russians. Thank goodness, but that was it. Everything brings its part, every day is different. Inshallah that the future will get better.
Since the attack in Sousse, security measures have been increased everywhere. Twice as many policemen and private security forces guard the beaches and control important road crossings. The drives and entrances to hotels are watched meticulously. The higher the security levels at the hotels, the more bookings they receive. All the large hotels have ramped up, trained and employed security forces. Mahdi Kantaoui consults the hotels on security matters On behalf of a company in Tunis, he examines whether enough metal detectors and cameras have been delivered and whether they are being implemented properly.
The head of security of this hotel increased measures after the attack. He bought in metal detectors and increased the security officers from 15 to 22. It's not only the hotel's entrances and beaches which are under close guard, but also the entrance to the restaurant. Sixteen cameras survey every movement in the hotel. More are being installed on the beach. Things have changed a lot.
The hotels have taken measures and strengthened their security teams. They want to offer a certain level of security for the tourists in the hotels on the coast. Sunbathing under the gaze of hawkish security forces. Is this what we have to get used to? I have the impression that slowly people are coming back. Not like before, but we hope the situation will get better.
That the visitor numbers will stabilize. That the tourists will regain their trust, and come back like they used to. The rapid measures to increase security were an important step for Tourist Minister Elloumi Rekik after the shock attack. Around one-sixth of 11 million Tunisians live off the income from foreign visitors. We have introduced compulsory security measures and processes in the hotels, restaurants, tourist destinations, airports. Our security concepts are up to international standards.
But that doesn't mean there is zero percent risk. We saw what happened in Brussels, France, and the USA. Luckily, tourism improved a little in 2016. Tunis is still the only capital in the Arab world where democracy has survived. Although this freedom was accompanied by the economic crisis.
After the unrest of the Arab Spring, tourism started to decline. The terror attacks severely worsened the situation. The unemployment rate is 15 percent. In the countryside, that rate rockets to 50 percent amongst young people. Mabrouka Khedir and Mahdi Kantaoui, the journalist and the security adviser are keeping a close eye on how the situation is developing.
Despite the crisis, they consider the revolution to have been an improvement. In spite of everything, we have freedom of expression. We can converse freely on this square without surveillance.
That is a big achievement. I hope there will be many other positive changes. This square in Tunis was where the demonstrators gathered in January 2011 in front of the Ministry of the Interior. The Tunisian revolution reaches a critical stage.
Thousands are protesting against Ben Ali's rule. Decades of autocratic government and self-enrichment. That was the start of the Arab Spring. The dictator has long fled the country. After several unstable governments, the country slowly seems to have been politically stabilizing since the last election in 2014.
Mabrouka Khedir is meeting with journalist friends. She has to give an interview about the protests on the Kerkennah Islands for an Arabic TV channel. In contrast to many of her colleagues, she doesn't only know the region's capital but also its rural areas. She regularly reports on internal tensions in the country, tensions that are exacerbated by the lack of tourists. Reports such as these would previously have been severely censored. Before the revolution it was hard to work together with an international broadcaster.
I am now correspondent for a European channel. Now, there is a certain level of free speech. We can address many issues. It is easy to get filming permission.
I can work without restrictions. Mabrouka is currently working on a report in the northwest of the country, where many people have no access to drinking water. The locals in this rural region are forced to rely on dirty water from a valley. Due to corruption, the local drinking water supply here has collapsed. The economic crisis aggravates grievances as well as exacerbating the divide between rich and poor.
There are people in these regions who are really suffering. They have the feeling that even after the revolution, the government is not taking care of them. People begin to revolt and demonstrate, which is why there is still no stability today. Civil unrest is particularly acute amongst the youth. In January 2016, the city of Kasserine in central Tunisia, high unemployment and people seeing no future for themselves resulted in protests. There were skirmishes with the police, ending with two people dead and many were injured.
Especially in the more remote regions, Salafist preachers in the chaos of the revolution, recruited around 6,000 IS fighters for the fight against Assad in Syria. Professor Allani Politik teaches at the university in Tunis. He's very familiar with the jihadist movement and terror groups within Tunisia. In those days, the government didn't control the mosques. We had 5,500 mosques in Tunisia.
Almost a third of them were under Salafist control. There the Islamists set up a number of charitable organizations thanks to these received funds from the Gulf States. This enabled a largely funded recruitment of youth that was sent to Libya or Syria.
Whoever recruited a person as a fighter was given $20,000. There was a competition. There were people who recruited up to ten. That meant a whole 200,000. Therefore, jihadism became a type of industry. The influence of IS terror propaganda and Salafist preachers is being actively countered by the Tunisian government.
It controls the mosques and has revoked radical imams' rights to preach. Libya is 60 kilometers from Djerba. The military has reinforced 200 kilometers of the border to prevent the infiltration of IS terrorists from the neighboring country. In early March 2016, there was a major ambush.
Thirty IS terrorists got through to Tunisia, and stormed the border town of Ben Gardane. All attackers were shot. Forty-eight people, including many security staff were killed.
At the moment the largest problems are the sleeper cells. There aren't many. The issues can only be solved with good economic policy.
If there is social and economic improvement, then these sleeper cells will also disappear. Our president often says, "The Tunisians are the reeds growing on the river bank." "They bend when the wind blows, but straighten up again afterward."
Now we are on the ground, but we will rise again and will fight terrorism like all other countries in the world. We will win in the end. Camel guide, Saber Misbah, is now resigned to waiting for his livelihood. Where once, hundreds of tourists teemed along the steep steps of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
Now, there is a vast emptiness. The camel tour to the other side of the pyramids was his and his family's income source for many years. After the unrest in Cairo in 2011, he had to use up his savings as tourism dwindled. Since then, nothing has been going well. On a good day, we have half as many tourists as we used to. I hope that it will slowly improve.
The situation has got a little better. Some complain and moan but not me. Some have given up their jobs, others continue. Yalla, I have to go.
The upheavals of the last years have had severe consequences for Saber, and for Egypt as a whole. Six years ago, Cairo, with its 22 million inhabitants, became one of the most conflict-ridden areas in the world due to the Arab Spring. The result was a dearth of visitors that continues to this day.
In 2011, in central Tahrir Square, the revolution began. The spark from Tunis had ignited Cairo. Fifteen thousand demonstrators occupied the square demanding democracy. Reviled President Mubarak was forced to step down by the masses.
The first free election in the country's history saw the Muslim Brotherhood gain power in 2012. After only a year, there were more furious protests followed by a fierce military coup against the Brotherhood and its followers. The army was said to have killed hundreds of demonstrators, including women and children. New elections in 2014, brought the Commander in Chief of the forces, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, to power with a huge majority. Since then, the military has ruled with an iron fist. Newspapers were closed down.
Journalists and critics were thrown into prison. Our camera team is followed by armed companions that do not let us out of their sight. The media as a whole is under surveillance.
Egyptian publications are censored. The country is once again a policed state. In the evening, we secretly meet the human rights activist, Mozn Hassan, who won the alternative Nobel Prize several months ago for her work in women's rights. She is one of the few who still dares to speak openly in front of the camera. The public space is really closed based on different laws and regulations, but for civil society, it's really hard. We are on a crackdown.
Most organizations, including our organization and myself, are accused of foreign funding. Supposedly, this case could extend to a life sentence. At the same time, they are putting pressure generally on our existence. Most of us in this case, who are the human rights defenders are on a travel ban, like myself.
In the city center, where thousands of European tourists once visited Khan el-Khalili bazaar, the largest market in Africa, it's only locals who make purchases alongside a few tourists from neighboring countries. In the last year under Mubarak, around 15 million tourists flocked to the country by the Nile. Those numbers are now closer to five million. Zakarija Ghoneim misses the European and American tourists who would spend far more money than the locals. The changes taking place in the Arabic countries have led to an economic decline.
After this, there will be good business again, as God wills it. In a back courtyard of the bazaar, he visits his suppliers. The craftsmen are also suffering due to the lull. Without the export market, they would have been forced to close. Since their youth, they have been working as silversmiths, specializing in the delicately finished jewelry, a tradition that is now in danger of dying out. [Arabic spoken audio] We used to make a good living from it.
We would live well. There was a lot of work. My uncle Hassan and I would work for other people after we were done here to earn extra money.
There used to be six or seven of us in this workshop. Now we are three. Two of us are old, do you understand? There is no one left who wants to learn this trade. Send us apprentices if you have any. Send them to us. If customers continue to stay away, they will be the last experts of a dying craft.
An Egyptian tradition is threatened with extinction. Minister Yahya Rashed refuses to regard this as a crisis. The tourism ministry prefers not to talk about the job losses.
I was in Paris last week. One of the journalists came and said it is safer in Sharm el-Sheikh than in Nice. That is the fact of the matter. It all depends on how you look at things. The message is clear. Egypt is safe by all measures.
I don't want to address this to the German public or the French public, because we're all on the same equation, all of us. Just before sunset, Saber Misbah ends his day. He lives with his family of eight, and 15 further relatives and children in a narrow house not far from the pyramids.
Saber's father was also a camel guide, but his sons have decided against a job in tourism. The only way the large family survived the years of crisis was by supporting each other. However, all their savings have now been spent. [Arabic spoken audio] I was born here, and married here. This is my house, life, and family.
When the revolution started there was no more work, none. Now there is little work. One can live from it again, but it is not like it was.
We can buy food, but we cannot save anything. We hope that the situation will improve. At the moment, it's not looking good. I hope very much it will be better for the next generation. It looks difficult for us now.
We will probably not experience good tourism anymore. Yet the breathtaking view of the pyramids remains, with or without tourists. Beach life at Sharm el-Sheikh, 500 kilometers from Cairo. The beaches along the Red Sea are empty. The hotels are chronically under booked.
In October 2015, a Russian charter flight blows up above the Sinai. Two hundred and twenty-four people die. According to Moscow, there was a bomb on the plane. Tourist numbers to Egypt plummet. Only six months later, an Egypt air flight crashes into the Mediterranean. Sixty-six people die.
A further suspected terrorist attack. The consequences for Egyptian tourism are catastrophic, whether in Cairo or the Red Sea. Five hundred hotels are forced to close. Hotel director Franz Kielnhofer has never witnessed anything like it. The only reason the Sheraton can stay open is because it's part of a large chain. When you see it so empty, it is like a funeral.
It hurts, that's not good. We have to let about 420 go in six months, more than two-thirds. We are trying to pull those we still have through. We send no one on unpaid leave, we are not reducing their pay. Life is hard enough for the people.
We don't want to make it harder. We do try to support the people that work for us. The shopping area of Sharm el-Sheikh used to have thousands of visitors. Two-thirds of the sales staff have lost their jobs.
Of the 900,000 hotel staff in Egypt, 600,000 of them have now lost their jobs. For the governor of the South Sinai region, General Khaled Fouda, the plane crashes are the worst thing that could've happened. From one day to the next, the region's entire economy was broken. [Arabic spoken audio] More than three billion dollars. Can you imagine what we could have done with the three billion? We could build schools and hospitals Improve the chances of our children.
We could build houses for our children, now they are living in slums. That tourism has been destroyed is a harsh punishment for the state. For the entire region.
For the terrorists, the crimes and atrocities are a success. The so-called Islamic State boasted that it smuggled the bomb aboard the Russian plane at Sharm el-Sheikh airport. The security standards were internationally condemned. We are filming with a hidden camera.
Permission to film in the airport was denied. Security checks have been intensified, and every item of baggage is X-rayed and sealed. We have implemented all security measures for the airport.
We have taken the criticism seriously. It is up to the countries which have deserted us. Tourists should come back. From our side, we have done everything we can. How much responsibility lies with the tourists? We are on the way to Dahab, a diving town, 80 kilometers north of Sharm el-Sheikh, where visitors are still coming from around the world despite the attacks. Here in South Sinai, there was also a bomb attack ten years ago that stopped tourism in its tracks, yet the region recovered.
Tourism numbers at Dahab are steady, if at a level lower than before. Here, the advantages of individual sport tourism become apparent. The visitors are more flexible and aren't as quickly taken in by the general fear. Some are here for the second and third time, even though they must now take longer flights as charter planes no longer fly directly.
German tourists have been coming for many years. Have a great dive, and enjoy. German Heidrun Bauderer has been running a well-known dive school in Dahab with her husband for 13 years.
[German spoken audio] Those who don't dive can snorkel, but everyone needs to follow the rules. No touching in order to preserve the coral. We individualized before the revolution. That was our concept, to cater to the individual.
You are not reliant on the masses, just the opposite, you don't really want them. Over the years, you get many loyal guests that still come, even when it's not so easy to get to Sinai. The underwater world by the Red Sea is unique. The diversity of the coral landscapes only survives thanks to the strong protective measures that are in place to preserve it. The fact that there is no mass tourism is a great advantage for diving in Dahab.
I can really say that we always felt safe. All the guests who come have a wonderful time. They only wonder why they fretted in the first place. They feel safe and well here. An hour's flight away is the city of Luxor by the Nile.
Its historic monuments are world-renowned. Tourism here has collapsed completely. It was the most important income source for the majority of the population.
Everyone was affected as family members lost their jobs. Since the 19th century, Luxor was a dream destination for culture tourists. In this city, with its great history, there are barely any Europeans to be seen. At least more visitors are coming from the Arabic countries out of solidarity, it's said. The 4,000-year-old temple city of Karnak, two kilometers from Luxor, is the largest temple complex in Egypt and one of the most important archeological sites in the world.
Ahmed Noubi, head of the information department in Luxor, knows every relief and every column of the famous hall that was completed by Ramesses II. It pains him that terrorism has scared the guests away, and that the monuments are decaying. We were one of the ones who suffered a lot from terrorism. We can't forget the decade of terrorism in Egypt, which hit tourism in Egypt very badly, and ended with the massacre of Queen Hatshepsut in 1997. The first major Islamist terror attack in Egypt was at the nearby Temple of Death.
Fifty-eight holidaymakers were slaughtered, 36 Swiss, four Germans. The Islamist Union, Gama'a al-Islamiyya was behind the attack. Since then, there have been several jihadi attacks of differing terrorist organizations against Egypt's secular military government.
Security measures in Luxor have long since been tightened. When there was an attack two years ago, armed security forces were there immediately. Ahmed Noubi hopes that lovers of antiquity from Europe and America will return soon as further excavations in Karnak somehow need to be financed. This civilization belongs to mankind. All of us have to enjoy, preserve, and do the reconstruction. Layers of civilization.
When the Greeks came to Egypt, they took from ancient Egyptians, their philosophy, medicine, and sciences. Then, European civilization was built upon the Greeks one for the Renaissance. Then, the new American civilization is built upon European civilization. -If you see… -It's all connected. All connected back to Egypt.
Now the Chinese are discovering the World Heritage site for themselves. Since their president visited Luxor in 2015, thousands are coming here and wandering peacefully around the ruins. There is hope for Luxor. However, the cruise ships along the Nile have not yet managed to attract Chinese clientele. Of the former 260 hotel ships that cruised between Luxor and Aswan, only a dozen remain on the water.
At least the Felucca boatman still have a little work. They are not wholly dependent on the tourists, as locals also reserve rides on board the traditional sailboats. Mahmoud Matar loves his job. The Feluccas were already sailing along the Nile at the time of the Pharaohs. Mahmoud is convinced they will still be here in thousands of years' time.
He regrets that business is not what it once was. The most important thing here is the tourists. Without them, half of the people would be worse off. We all live off them.
Bazaars, hotels, ships, sailing boats, vegetable sellers, and shoe shiners. Without tourism, no one would earn anything. We hope that the tourists will come back.
They do need one thing, safety. Mahmoud is lucky that he doesn't only depend on holidaymakers from the West. The Nile Plateau by Luxor is very fertile. Many here are self-sufficient. Everyone can feed themselves.
I have a brother that works on the second boat at night. I work during the day, him during the night. One farmer works as a farmer.
We have a farm for ourselves. We plant tomatoes, potatoes, whatever is in season. We plant wheat, now it is time for wheat. We will harvest it in the summer. The tourists will return. At least, that is what everyone hopes.
For the majority of the population, the return of democracy is not as important as the desire for safety. Something many feel is offered by a dictatorship. Istanbul and Turkey are also suffering under a volatile combination of instability, terrorism, and economic decline. In comparison to previous years, revenues from tourism have fallen by a third. The attack at the Blue Mosque in 2016 was only the first of a string of others which occurred that year. The IS bomber blew himself up in the middle of a German tourist group on the square between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
Twelve Germans died, 13 people were injured. At Ataturk airport, at the end of June 2016, there was another attack. Three terrorists, presumably IS, killed 41 people. In the entrance hall, one of the assassins opens fire with a Kalashnikov, and detonates his explosive device.
The two others also blow themselves up, 239 people are injured. Istanbul finds no peace. Only two weeks later, the country is shaken by an attempted coup.
Parts of the military want to overthrow President Erdogan. The bloody coup kills 247 across the country. More than 2,000 are injured.
The preacher, Fethullah Gulen and his Hizmet movement is said to be pulling the strings. The weeks and months that follow see President Erdogan's government striking back. Tens of thousands are arrested, not just Gulen supporters, but politicians of the opposition, or of the HDP party which is supported by the Kurds, are thrown into prison. At the end of October, the openly critical newspaper, Cumhuriyet is the target of state oppression. The editor-in-chief and 12 other journalists are arrested. International condemnation of this new blow against freedom of expression grows louder.
According to the Turkish Union of Journalists, around 170 media organizations have been closed down since the attempted coup. Only a few journalists, like the well-known author Ahmed Sik, still dare to openly criticize the government. Over 120 journalists are sitting in jail. After the attempted coup, it was about 40. Now, it is three times as many.
There are many friends and colleagues amongst them. This is the Junta government. They can do anything without being controlled.
Open discussion is not a possibility. Ahmet Sik has been arrested since giving this interview. He had a feeling that his name would be on the list.
I don't think that any truly Islamic politicians can be Democrats. Islam is a religion that juxtaposes democracy. In Turkey, religion is being instrumentalised by the right-wing government that is increasingly authoritarian. The regime is showing dictatorial traits. Turkey is similar to a kingdom in the Middle East.
Democracy, that was once upon a time. This square by the Hagia Sophia is empty. The world-famous Grand Bazaar is deserted.
The terror attacks, the coup and the ensuing state repression have scared off the tourists. Even Antalya, a popular holiday destination in autumn, is suffering from a drought in visitors. The bazaar in Antalya's old town is reminiscent of desolate Djerba and Cairo. Yet chances of improvement are much lower here. Terror attacks in Turkey are not only increasing, but social conflicts are also on the rise.
Umit Akduman represents workers of the tourism industry. He voices the hardship of those who have lost their jobs. Three-quarters are a victim of the crash. Of 600,000 employees, only 450,000 are still working in this region. Most of them only have temporary work between three and five months. In the amphitheater in Aspendos, not far from Antalya, one hopes that at least the Russians will return, as Erdogan and Putin seem to be getting along with each other once again.
At the waterfalls in Manavgat, a few Russians can be found, but they alone cannot make up for the missing Europeans. Even the all-inclusive hotels eastward of Antalya are only 30 percent full. Here, the one-sidedness of all-inclusive holidays is taking its revenge. Clients are booking because of the low prices, and a connection to the country and the locals was one never made by visitors.
Umit Akduman only has a small office in Antalya, even though he is in charge of the only union for all those who work in tourism. He believes the current crisis is reinforcing the mistakes made in the past. The all-inclusive hotels attract short-stay holidaymakers and bargain hunters. Most have little money to spend. They take a cheap holiday.
No money stays in the country. In his opinion, Turkey needs to concentrate more on individual tourism, focusing on small boutique hotels, and expanding its cultural offering. Only if the relationship between the tourists, the region and the country is nurtured, will guests have the faith to return in times of crisis. Turkey has destroyed tourism by itself with homemade mistakes in foreign and domestic policy. Mistakes in developing the tourism industry.
This is why Turkey is in this situation now. It is our fault, we have done the damage to ourselves. Sultanahmet, the old town in Istanbul isn't a typical all-inclusive destination. It's sought out by those interested in the city and its culture. The head of the union of local hotels, Ali Polat, had to close his boutique hotel to save costs and avoid bankruptcy. Concentrating on individual tourism did not save him.
His anger is now directed at the Europeans. There is terror in the whole world. Europeans know this. When it happens here they are especially shocked and talk badly of us. Terror is terror.
As our president says, it is not your terrorist or my terrorist, but it is the same everywhere. Terror is terror. Ali Polat has strong contacts in Germany. He knows that it's not just a fear of terror attacks that is keeping the tourists away. The tourists are not coming because they do not agree with the wave of political repression after the failed coup. Many Turks are upset by this critique from Europe.
Turkey had done what it can to attract more European tourists. If Europe considers our nation a friend, it is now up to the Europeans to approach us. Ali Polat is too much of a businessman to let emotions get in the way. He is successfully nurturing his contacts, the bus drivers, that bring Arabic and Iranian tourists to his place.
In order to become less dependent on Europe, a new business relationship with the East is also the strategy of the Turkish government, which is distancing itself ever more from Europe. [Arabic spoken audio] My businesses were geared towards European and American customers. Now I have overhauled them. There are Iranian groups, and in the afternoon, Arabic ones.
Now we care for them. To survive, we have to fill the gap that has been left by the Europeans. The chances of a revival of European tourism here are very low. Democracy is under threat.
Social tensions are on the rise. This is evident from over a dozen Islamic and Kurdish terror attacks in just one year. In Egypt, people have gotten used to military rule again. Most people accept it as a necessary evil and believe that it will provide the safety needed to bring the tourists back. Egypt has been the first tourism destination on Earth. Today, we're not saying anything new.
We are saying that basically the Egyptian tourism deserves to be at the head of this industry. Tunisia has taken the greatest steps to protect its tourists, and the future of its own people. If the country remains democratic and the youth profit from it, a stable development will be possible.
We have noticed that the situation has improved a little. If you compare it to last year, the one with the attack, it really was very empty. Slowly, there is an upturn. For years, sun, beach, and cost were the main considerations for going on holiday.
Now, one more has been added to the list. The fear of terrorism. The time of carefree holidays are over.