Last updated: 08:41 PM ET, Sat December 12 2015

Egyptian Government’s Twitter Tourism Hashtag Commandeered

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | December 12, 2015

Egyptian Government’s Twitter Tourism Hashtag Commandeered

Photo via Twitter/twismsw

Egypt has had yet another setback in its attempt to revive a shaken tourism industry, this time in cyberspace. A Twitter hashtag meant for innocent tourist experiences instead became a platform for activists, who revealed stark, harrowing realities of life in the nation, the Associated Press reported.

Still reeling from the recent Russian airliner crash in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 224, which caused Russia — a major source of tourism — to halt all flights to Egypt, the government unveiled an online campaign Thursday meant to woo tourists.

Per the AP, the campaign includes a video that has gone viral in Egypt, showing young people enjoying such popular attractions as the Red Sea coast and the Great Pyramids of Giza. Near the end of the commercial, the narrator asks viewers to use the Twitter hashtag #ThisIsEgypt, "let the world know (Egypt) the way you see it."

Things did not go quite as planned. While some Twitter users did use the hashtag as intended, many used it for, as the AP said, posts “showing badly maintained streets, beggars and piles of trash, and links to articles about detainees, police abuses and the government's bloody dispersal of peaceful protesters outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiyah mosque in 2013.”

"I'm not trying to hijack the #thisisegypt hashtag, just doing what they said," journalist Wael Eskandar tweeted. Eskandar posted links to articles about incarcerated journalists, students and activists, including some secretly detained in recent months.

As background, the AP noted that Egypt launched a crackdown on supporters of overthrown President Mohammed Morsi, with many of the country’s journalists and young pro-democracy activists among them — the same movement that deposed despot Hosni Mubarak.

This backfired social media campaign is similar to what occurred in a Syrian government tourism push earlier this year, according to the AP. Instead of tourism sites, the #SummerInSyria hashtag accompanied photos of children wounded in government bombing raids, and one photo of an obliterated neighborhood came with the remark, "Come and enjoy your #SummerInSyria. You will see many historic cities. In fact, most of Syria's cities are history."


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