Egypt needs more tourists, minister says
Egypt welcomes visitors who wear bikinis and drink alcohol, the tourism minister of the once thriving travel destination says. The Islamist-led country is aiming to increase tourist arrivals by at least a fifth this year, hence the minister’s all-inclusively welcoming tones.
A pillar of the Egyptian economy, tourism has suffered in recent years. But the government now has “optimistic goals” for the sector, minister Hisham Zaazou said, despite calls from Egypt’s Salafi Muslim groups for a ban on alcohol and women wearing swimsuits.
“Bikinis are welcome in Egypt and booze is still being served”, Zaazou told a news conference in English. “We had talks with these Salafi groups and now they understand the importance of the tourism sector. But still you have some individuals that are not from the leadership saying these things.”
In the first quarter of 2013, around three million tourists visited Egypt, a 14.6% rise from the same period in 2012, according to government figures.