Egyptian tourism officials are expressing fears for the future of Egypt’s once-thriving tourism industry following preliminary indications that suggest strong electoral showings by Islamist candidates – from both the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafist Nour Party – in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls.
According to Egyptian Tourism Federation head Elhamy El-Zayat, an Islamist-dominated parliament would put some LE200 billion ($33.3 billion) worth of tourism investments in jeopardy.
“I’ve had several debates with Islamist figures about tourism and I fear the sector will collapse under their rule,” he told Ahram Online in a telephone interview.
El-Zayat went on to point to recent statements by a Salafist representative in which he said that the movement did not want foreign tourists visiting Egypt.
“They’re only thinking about alcohol and bikinis, not the huge amounts of revenue the sector brings Egypt’s economy,” El-Zayat stressed. “They want to rely on ‘cultural tourism,’ which currently accounts for only 11 per cent of total tourism revenue.”
Tourism has traditionally represented one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners.