Nasser Nasser / AP
Tourists sunbathe at a resort in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt in a Dec, 2010 file photo.
Update 12:15 p.m. ET: A U.S. official tells NBC News it's confirmed that President Hosni Mubarak, apparently with his family, is in Sharm el-Sheik. Asked whether Mubarak plans to leave Egypt, the official said he had no information.
By Miranda Leitsinger, msnbc.com reporter
With the announcement that Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak has resigned as president and handed over control to the military after 29 years in power, U.S. officials confirm for NBC News that Mubarak has arrived in the popular Red Sea resort of Sharm el- Sheikh, where he typically spends a good part of the year.
The Associated Press reports that the embattled leader was greeted by the local governor upon his arrival at the airport in the Sinai’s southern tip on the Mediterranean coast.
Mubarak often receives official guests, and schedules summits and conferences at Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has a villa.
It's not a bad place for the embattled leader to start his retirement, Sharm el-Sheikh is known as a popular diving destination.
Before his arrival, Carole Edrich reported for The Telegraph that the tourist center “was eerily quiet this week. Hordes of winter sun worshippers had been replaced by empty beaches, deserted hotels and restaurants and taxi drivers reduced to playing cards at their ranks.”
Late last year, beaches in the area were closed due to a series of shark attacks, one that resulted in the death of a German woman, the BBC reports.
Online responses to Mubarak’s move, before the world learned that he was stepping down, were not kind. Jheri27 on Twitter wrote: “Mubarak is at his seaside resort in Sharm el Sheikh. Egypt is in turmoil and he goes on vacation. Get back to work, Hosni. Egypt needs you!” And mikerizk: “Mubarak to Sharm el Sheikh, Dubai … Does it matter...GO!”
Yet some had another take. Tchalla7 Tweeted: “This is not a vacation, this is an escape.”
The New York Times reports that Egypt is one of the top 25 destinations worldwide, accounting for 1 percent of the global tourism market, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
However, the current crisis has put a serious dent in the tourist industry. “The current crisis is estimated to be costing Egypt $310 million a day, according to a recent report from Credit Agricole, a bank based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which also reported that tourism last year accounted for 6 percent of Egypt’s gross national product.”