Egyptian tourism minister, his excellency Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, has welcomed the World Travel Awards to the country, telling an industry audience the event gives him “confidence in the future”.
“Confidence in Egypt is starting return; Egypt is very valuable to the international tourism industry,” the minister added ahead of the event this evening at SOHO Square in Sharm el Sheikh.
In an upbeat assessment of the Egyptian tourism industry, the minister argued the country was “on track” to recover from recent political upheaval.
While acknowledging visitor numbers had fallen by a quarter during 2011, Abdel Nour confirmed government officials expected levels to return to those seen in 2010 during the final three months of 2011.
The country was doing everything possible to ensure visitors returned, added the minister.
“We are doing everything in the book,” he explained, “we will not spare a minute, a penny, to get tourism back on track.
“Everything from advertising, subsidising operators, inviting people from overseas to come and see for themselves the possibilities, we are standing behind investors, everything in book.”
Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Egypt minister of tourism, centre, was joined on stage by Emad Aziz, chairman of Savoy Group, right, and General Khaled Foda, governor of South Sinai
Abdel Nour was also quick to dismiss suggestions a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood in elections scheduled for November would have a detrimental impact on tourism in Egypt.
“There can be no desire to damage the industry by taking an ideological stand against tourism.
“One should not be fooled by the demagogue parties; Egypt cannot do without tourism.”
Blaming media sensationalism for the suggestions, the minister added: “The Muslim Brotherhood do not dream of having a majority following the election and have no ambition of forming a government; this is pure imagination, the situation on the ground is totally different.”
There had been suggestions influence from political Islam would place curbs on tourist activities in Egypt including on the consumption of alcohol.
Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Egypt minister of tourism, left, is joined by Emad Aziz, chairman of Savoy Group, centre, and WTA founder Graham Cooke ahead of the 2011 Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony
The minister went on to add he expected Egypt to remain a secular country under any circumstances.
Security was also no longer an issue of any importance to tourists, explained Abdel Nour.
“During the revolution, not a single attack was perpetrated against tourists. Not a single attack.
“Egypt loves tourists.”
In a light hearted end to the press conference, Emad Aziz, chairman of Savoy Group, who joined minister Abdel Nour on the podium, laughed off suggestions shark attacks were a threat in the country, joking: “There are no sharks in the seas, nor in the streets.