CAIRO: Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou headed Thursday to Europe in a multi-country tour to promote the country’s ailing tourism sector, according to the Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) Facebook page Thursday.
The promotion tour, which includes visits to Italy, France and Germany, coincides with Egypt’s cultural tourism high season running from October through April.
“The tour aims for a substantial increase in the number of Europeans opting to visit the country in the 2014-15 winter season, and to gradually raise the number of tourists in Egypt to those seen before the 2011 upheaval,” Mahmoud Shukri of the TPA told The Cairo Post Thursday.
Europe accounts for 72 percent of annual incoming tourism to Egypt, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.
Zaazou is scheduled to start the tour with a visit to Italy where he will meet with leading Italian tour operators to “strengthen relations with Egypt’s most important Mediterranean tourism partner,” Shukri said.
“The tour also aims at attracting Italian investment in the tourism and construction sectors along with setting up new strategies to attract more Italian tourists to new Egyptian tourist destinations, including the North Coast and Marsa Alam,” Shukri added.
As a reaction to the mass protests on June 30 that resulted in the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued travel warnings over the past year and advised against travel to certain parts of Egypt, while Germany advised against all travel to Egypt, including Red Sea resorts.
In June 2014 following a slight improvement in Egypt’s state of security, many countries—including Italy, Denmark and Belgium—lifted travel warnings to the Sinai Peninsula.
During the World Tourism Organization conference on “Tourism Safety and Security in the Middle East” held in Cairo Sunday, Zaazou praised both the U.K. market and the FCO for lifting their travel ban, Al-Ahram reported.
“I thank the British government for its positive response throughout the last three years. There was no travel ban, only a ban at one point for Upper Egypt, and that was removed,” Zaazou said during the conference.
According to the National Accounts Division of the Ministry of Tourism, income from tourism in Egypt for the first quarter of 2014 decreased to $1.3 billion, down 43 percent from the same period last year.
According to the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, tourist activity comprises 11.3 percent of Egypt’s GDP.