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Despite layoffs and pay cuts, some in tourism support protests.

CAIRO: Staff at one of Cairo's popular downtown hostels, Cairo Stars Hotel, have taken a pay cut and face layoffs with Egypt's tourism industry devastated by the uncertain security situation during the protests.

Besides accommodating guests with rooms, the Cairo Stars Hotel arranges trips to Egypt's popular tourist destinations including the famous Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo. Two Italian guests were on that trip when violent confrontations took place all over Egypt, forcing the two foreigners to stay the night at their tour guide's nearby home.

On Jan. 25, the day the protests began, the hostel had 20 guests of numerous nationalities including: Russia, China, Libya and Algeria. Most left the day after Jan. 28 when central security forces spent two hours intimidating guests, the same day that central security forces violently clashed with the protesters.

The last guest left on Feb. 1 and since then all reservations have been cancelled. According to some, the decision by state television to air several programs asserting foreign spies were instigating the unrest, created an even worse atmosphere for foreign guests in Egypt.

The seven staff members at the 14-room hostel located just blocks from Tahrir Square were making LE 600 ($102) a month before the protest. The meager salary has been reduced to LE 500 per month. In a meeting on Feb. 6th the hostel owner informed staff that layoffs were coming.

One worker, a 40-year-old who goes by the name "Steve," had planned for months on taking out a LE 30,000 bank loan on Feb. 1 to open up his own hostel in Cairo. "There's no way I can open my own hostel now," he said adding "I'm looking for a new job."

With no idea where he will be able to find new work his uncle has promised to help him and his family through the difficult times ahead.

Despite the situation Steve remains upbeat and like so many others is proud to be an Egyptian right now. "Life has been difficult for so long," he says.

Last November, he didn't vote in the parliamentary elections which he thinks were fraudulent and a waste of time. Now he hopes elections will allow the Egyptian people to begin choosing their own destiny and creating an atmosphere favorable for fair business practices.

"The sooner Mubarak goes the sooner we can create a stable Egypt and then the tourists will come back," he said.

Daily NewsEgypt 2011

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Feb 10, 2011
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