Egypt’s tourism minister said TV reports had “overblown” the political unrest in Cairo and were not representative of the country as a whole.
Hisham Zaazou told Travel Weekly that news cameras focused only on one square kilometre of Egypt, around Cairo’s presidential palace and Tahrir Square, while “the rest of the country is calm, safe and secure”.
He admitted the recent unrest that followed the two-year anniversary of the revolution on January 25 had slowed tourism bookings.
However, Zaazou said: “I would say this downward trend isn’t going to be for long. I would say that once the streets are back to normal, I think interest will go back to normal.”
He said that 2012 had better tourist figures than 2011, the year of the revolution, with an increase of around 17% to 11.5 million visitors, bringing a rise in receipts and income of 15% that generated $10 billion.
However, Zaazou acknowledged that these figures are below Egypt’s 2010 peak, when it received 14.7 million tourists, generating $12.5 billion in income.
Commenting on how bookings had been faring in 2013 before the latest troubles in the country, Zaazou said: “I would say we had a good start to the year right after the Christmas holiday. The figures were moving in the right direction.”
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