Simon Calder: 'Surrender our wanderlust and evil will have won'


As with Luxor, Taba and Sharm el-Sheikh, so with Dahab: the damage from yesterday's attack spreads far wider than the innocent victims and their families. This act of mass murder was, like the other massacres before it, aimed at wrecking the industry of human happiness that tourism should represent.

This time the soft targets were different: backpackers, who are harder for terrorists to pin down. Budget travellers tend not to stay in large hotels where mayhem can be maximised, and are likely to infiltrate - and contribute financially towards - the local community. They are, though, like all tourists, profoundly vulnerable in a strange land, in a relaxed frame of mind, and easily marked out as outsiders. And because, increasingly, many terrorist groups understand that killing tourists can destroy much more than the immediate victims.

After the Luxor attack in 1997, in which 58 tourists were wiped out, package tourism from Britain to Egypt dropped by four-fifths. It took five years for numbers to recover - except for the backpacking community. Travellers with Lonely Planet books and Rough Guides continue to seek travel perfection in Dahab. With its easygoing atmosphere and manifold opportunities for hedonism, it was in many senses the last resort. While package holiday companies moved customers elsewhere, budget travellers remained resilient - and hundreds of Egyptian workers continued to feed their families with cash spent by backpackers.

The Egyptian survivors of yesterday's attack face a bleak future. The authorities will ratchet up security still further, turning popular resorts into sunny versions of Belfast and Londonderry at the height of the Troubles. Western governments will stop short of urging their citizens to avoid Egypt (diplomatically, the country is too important), while independent travellers and package tourists will naturally be assessing their options.

The topic for discussion over breakfast in classic backpacker haunts from Goa to Guatemala will be "is anywhere safe?". Here in Britain a parallel conversation will take place over the breakfast table between parents worried about the safety of their travelling offspring.

The answer, as it has been for decades, remains the same: travelling almost anywhere is likely to be an enlightening, wholesome and life-enhancing experience. Once the heartbreaking business of bringing home the bodies and mourning the dead of Dahab is over, another tragedy must be averted. We must never lose the will to travel to spread wealth to less fortunate parts of the world, and to understand a little more about the wonderful diversity of the planet. Surrender our wanderlust, and we will have given in to evil.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower