Ministry seeks tourism boost after Ahmadinejad visit

Ministry seeks tourism boost after Ahmadinejad visit

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Mon, 25/02/2013 - 19:20

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.