Tourism minister optimistic over future

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BERLIN: Egypt’s hard-hit tourism sector is facing a new start after a “difficult” 2011 but there is reason for optimism, the Egyptian tourism minister said on Tuesday.

The minister, Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour, told a press conference ahead of the ITB travel trade show which opens on Wednesday that Egypt’s invitation to be guest of honor was a “milestone”.

Abdel-Nour told reporters after German Economics Minister Philipp Roesler inaugurated the show: “It’s a new beginning at the right time after 2011 which was a turning point.”

He said that “it would be an understatement to say it was a difficult year” for the tourism industry, more than a year after the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

But he said there were “positive signs” of better times ahead while acknowledging that much remained to be done.

“The road will be long and sometimes bumpy but we are confident,” he said.

“We are seeing some positive signs,” he added, pointing to the economy.

And he voiced regret that media attention focused on events in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which he said did not represent the situation in other parts of the country where calm prevailed.

Since early 2011, Egypt’s economy has been weakened by a fall in tourism and a collapse of foreign exchange reserves.

About 10,644 exhibitors from 187 countries are due to take part in the ITB show which runs until Sunday.


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