Egypt seeks tourism boost after Ahmadinejad visit

Egyptian tourism minister is heading to Tehran in a bid to drum up holiday business
An Egyptian protester wearing empty tear gas canisters around his neck carries an Egyptian flag during a demonstration in Tahrir Square on January 25, in Cairo, Egypt. Thousands of protesters converged on the capitals iconic Tahrir Square on January 25, to mark the second anniversary of the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubaraks regime. (Getty Images)
By Reuters
Sun 24 Feb 2013 10:20 PM

Egypt's tourism minister is heading to Tehran, the government said on Sunday, as Cairo tries to halt sliding visitor numbers and thaws relations with Iran after a 30-year freeze.

Minister Hisham Zaazou will visit the Iranian capital from Monday under a drive "to restore tourism activity into Egypt and discover new and diverse markets", the Tourism Ministry said in a statement.

Last month President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt since Tehran's 1979 Islamic revolution, and called for a strategic alliance with Cairo.

Egypt's tourism sector has suffered since a popular uprising toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Waves of riots and instability have driven many tourists away.

Tourism used to account for more than a tenth of Egypt's gross domestic product (GDP) before the uprising. In 2010, around 14.7 million visitors came to Egypt, generating around $12.5 billion, but this slumped to 9.8 million people in 2011, bringing in $8.8 billion.

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