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Egypt is on track to end the year almost on a par with 2012 in terms of UK visitor numbers, despite losing three months of the year when President Mohamed Morsi was deposed in a poular uprising.
The country’s tourism minister Hisham Zaazou met government officials while in the UK for WTM this week and says he is sure that Foreign Office travel advice will soon be softened as political stability returns to the country.
Speaking to Travel Weekly at a dinner hosted by the Lowcost Holiday Group last night, Zaazou said the country was safe, and that despite all its difficulties security arrangements in tourist areas have been reviewed and that security can be assured.
Zaazou said: “By the end of September we had already received 760,000 British tourists – that’s an average of 65,000 a month. If we continue on the same pattern we will reach one million, which is close to what we received last year. The destination is resilient and the British public wants to come to Egypt. I believe they are coming which will result in these favourable conditions.”
Zaazou, who describes himself as more of a technocrat than a politician, has served both former Egyptian presidents, Morsi and Hosni Mubarak, who are both now in jail awaiting trials.
He famously quit the Morsi Muslim Brotherhood government when a former terrorist was appointed as tourism chief in Luxor, only to be persuaded to stay in the post before quitting again as the popular uprising against Morsi began, at which point he joined protestors on the streets.
He said he was sure that the new constitution and democratic process in the country would bring long-term stability to Egypt and there would not be a third revolution after the next set of elections parliamentary and presidential.
“The country is safe. The problem is the perception. In previous years when we had a problem the tourist was a target. Today it’s not a target. This is an internal issue. Both parties in the conflict today are not making the tourist a target.
“I understand, I do not blame the consumer for being cautious. But the perception of the British public is history today, that was two or three months ago. There is much more of a security grip in the country, the political process has started.”
Zaazou praised the British government for its stance on travel advisories to the country which always maintained that the Red Sea was safe, but he believes the ongoing advice to not travel to other parts of the country like Luxor and Aswan is overly cautious.
“I’m thankful for Britain, they never stopped sending people. I thank the industry and the Brirish government and I look forward to them lifting that travel ban. I have a very positive feeling.”
Lowcost says it was 7% up in September to Egypt driven by some rock-bottom deals on flights and accommodation. Five-star all inclusive hotels are selling nights for under £40 per night.
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