By Doaa Farid
In a recent conference Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou expressed his hope for a return to normalcy in Egypt’s tourism sector, highlighting the improvement in the country’s security situation.
The remarks came during a global press conference under the framework of Zaazou’s participation in tourism conferences in Zimbabwe and Zambia under the umbrella of United Nations World Tourism Oragnization (UNWTO).
According to a statement from the foreign ministry, Zaazou discussed in the conference the political developments after 30 June, including the current roadmap.
Zaazou also said that in the next phase Egypt will work more on promoting beach tourism in the Red Sea, especially Sharm Al-Sheikh and Hurghada, as they are “quite far from the escalating political events in the country.”
On the sidelines of the conference, which was held from 24-29 August, Zazou met with his Zimbabwean counterpart, with the latter expressing interest in a bilateral tourism cooperation convention between the two countries.
Zaazou asserted in media statements in Zimbabwe and Zambia that Egypt is ready to cooperate with African countries to provide the experience and support needed to help develop tourism personnel in those countries.
Meanwhile, the tourism minister met with his Russian counterpart to note the improvement of the security situation in the Red Sea, expressing his aspirations to help return Russian tourism to Egypt to its normal rate, according to the press statement.
He also suggested in a meeting with his counterparts from Madagascar and Mozambique the establishment of an African committee for tourism cooperation.
In an attempt to revive tourism, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy has tasked ambassadors with encouraging Egyptian tourism in foreign countries, according to an official statement issued last Tuesday.
Zazou meanwhile, in a YouTube video on 22 August, asked foreign travel agencies to push their governments to lift their negative travel advisories for Egypt.
The tourism sector, accounting for 11.3% of the country’s GDP, has been suffering since the 25 January Revolution, especially in comparison to the industry’s 2010 peak year, when it was reported that visitors hit approximately 1 million. However, tourist numbers were up 16.4 % year on year in June, according to the latest bulletins of Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) in August.