Orascom Development Looks to Taba Port to Boost Resort Traffic

Orascom Development Holding AG said it expects more tourists at its Taba, Egypt hotels after the country reopened a port linking it with Jordan, signaling security in the Sinai Peninsula may be improving.

The port was closed at the start of the January 2011 revolt that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. The occupancy rate at Orascom’s Taba hotels fell to 43 percent in the first half of this year from 49 percent a year earlier and 73 percent in the first six months of 2010, Sara El Gawahergy, the Altdorf, Switzerland-based company’s investor relations manager, said in a telephone interview today.

“The decision to reopen the port was in close cooperation with local government authorities as perceived security concerns in North Sinai seem less pronounced,” El Gawahergy said. “We expect the reopening to boost tourism and have a positive impact on Taba Heights,” an Orascom-run hotel.

Violence has flared in Sinai, which lies on Egypt’s border with Israel, in recent months with troops from both countries targeted by militants. An Israeli soldier and three gunmen were killed in a Sept. 21 firefight on Israel’s side of the border, and an attack the previous month left 16 Egyptian border guards dead and prompted the country’s military to start an operation against extremist groups in the territory.

Egypt’s government aims to increase tourist arrivals to 30 million by 2017, the state-run al-Ahram reported on Sept. 27. Last month, the government approved foreign ownership of real estate in Sinai to encourage investment.

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