Tourism remains key, says Egypt’s Islamic parties

Tourism remains key, says Egypt’s Islamic parties

Egypt’s major Islamist parties have emphasised that tourism will remain a key priority for the country should they win the elections.

The announcements aim to allay fears that religious conservatism could harm travel and tourism, which remains one of Egypt’s biggest industries, accounting for over a tenth of GDP and employing an estimated one in eight of the workforce.

The Freedom and Justice Party as well as Al-Nur are both launching conferences to explore opportunities to improve tourism.

Egypt’s Red Sea resorts and historic monuments attracted 15million visitors last year, but its tourism industry is concerned that the imposition of strict Islamic law could put off future holidaymakers.

Some candidates and scholars have spoken about segregating beaches and banning bikinis and alcohol.

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Last Friday, around 1,000 Egyptians rallied near the Pyramids of Giza to protest against what they said were threats to harm tourism.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt fell by more than a third in the second quarter of 2011 compared to last year.

However there are encouraging signs of a resurgence, particularly in the Red Sea resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh.

The resort played host to World Travel Awards at the SOHO Square, the Red Sea’s premier dining, shopping and entertainment complex.

A number of Egyptian tourist attractions, hotels and organisations emerged victorious at the WTA 2011 Africa & Indian Ocean Ceremony in September.

Winners included the Pyramids of Giza, which beat off stiff competition from Victoria Falls, Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro to win “Africa’s Leading Attraction”. Meanwhile Egypt Air saw off the likes of South African Airways, Air Namibia, Kenya Airways and Royal Air Maroc to collect “Africa’s Leading Business Class Airline”.

Also in September, Egypt played host to the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s World Tourism Day, which was celebrated in the city of Aswan.