How serious is cultural racketeering?
Over the past two years, organized criminal syndicates have begun systematic looting of cultural sites in Egypt for profit. Museums, warehouses, and existing archaeological digs have all been subject to attack, with the illegal obtained art and artifacts showing up in major capitals and countries.
- Satellite imagery shows significant increases in looting activities in every major archaeological site since the Revolution.
- Initial estimates based on the imagery place losses to cultural racketeering at $3 Billion.
What are the consequences of inaction?
It is not simply the past that is being robbed when antiquities are looted. It is also the future. Antiquities looting threatens the livelihoods of Egyptian people who suffer from lost tourism revenue. In addition, cultural heritage can be harnessed into a tool for economic vitality.
- Tourism accounts for 11.3 percent of Egypt’s GDP.
- In 2011, pre-Revolution, tourism in Egypt accounted for $12.5 billion in revenue. Last year, it was down to $10.5 billion.