Recent coach bombing in the southern Sinai is one of the worst attacks targeting tourists

The coach bombing was near Taba in southern Sinai last Sunday Feb. 16, not far from an Israel border crossing often used by vacationers. The explosion killed two South Koreans and one Egyptian.

It was one of the worst attacks targeting tourists since militants struck the Hilton hotel in Taba in 2004, killing 34 people. The resort, which lies three and a half hours drive north of Sharm el-Sheikh, still has a heavy security presence.

Although militants scattered across the desert and mountain landscape have stepped up their activities since Mubarak’s overthrow, their insurgency is focused on northern Sinai. Taba was viewed by Western governments as safe for visitors.

But the ultimatum from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis could deter foreigners from visiting even regions that lie far beyond the Islamist group’s base and its main zone of activity.

In Hurghada, hundreds of miles south of Sinai on the Egyptian mainland, boat and beach resort manager Nasser Mazen said he was worried.

“At the moment we only work at 25 percent capacity of what we would normally do in February,” he said. “We hope that these attacks will stop. Tourists… see what’s happening in Egypt in the media and postpone their travel to next year or later.”

France’s Club Med, which runs the Sinai Bay resort in Taba, said it was keeping the site open but had stepped up security and was advising clients not to venture outside the village alone.

The new threats in Egypt are “a situation that is a source of concern for us”, a Club Med spokeswoman said.

Some guests have cancelled trips, she said, and Club Med was offering refunds or the chance to book to other destinations.

Marriott, Hilton and Accor have also stepped up security at their hotels in Sinai.