Egypt Independent

Ministry seeks tourism boost after Ahmadinejad visit



Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou  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.

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.

The tourism sector has suffered since a popular uprising toppled former 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 the nation's gross domestic product before the uprising. In 2010, around 14.7 million visitors came to Egypt, generating around US$12.5 billion, but this slumped to 9.8 million people in 2011, bringing in $8.8 billion.