Last Update 21:38
Saturday, 19 October 2019

'It's just business' says minister on phobia of Iranian tourists in Egypt

Tourism minister tries to allay fears of 'Shia infiltration' as a new Iranian tour group visits Egypt amid their depressing tourism downturn

Dalia Farouk and Ahram Online , Saturday 1 Jun 2013
Egypt's minister of tourism, Hisham Zazou, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)
Views: 1971
Views: 1971

The flow of Iranian tourists to Egypt is like any new market that will benefit Egypt's travel industry, says Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou to Ahram Online in light of the recent arrival of Iranian tourist groups.

"It is the ministry’s role to set regulations and conditions that organises tour groups from any market and to monitor the implementation, along with other entities such as security," he tells Ahram Online, seeming to assert that the government could allay public fears.

The group of 134 Iranian tourists who arrived to Upper Egypt’s Aswan early Friday will head to Luxor, Hurghada (on the Red Sea) and Cairo for a one-week visit.

General Mohamed Reda, managing director of Lucky Tours tourist agency (which is organising trips for Iranians in Egypt) explains to Ahram Online that the Egypt’s travel industry is trying to attract any type of tourist. He reveals that his company was not pressured to organise a trip for 134 Iranians.

"Our company didn’t face any trouble while planning for this trip," said Reda. Official apparatuses were very cooperative and another group of Iranian tourists are expected to arrive starting 21 June, he adds.

Reda expects around 200,000 Iranian tourists to visit Egypt in 2013 and estimates they will generate roughly $252 million for Egypt.

In April, more than 50 Iranians – the first Iranian tourists to visit Egypt since relations between the two countries were severed more than 30 years ago – arrived in Upper Egypt amid tight security. The visit came as part of a bilateral tourism agreement signed in February between Cairo and Tehran.

Since the election of Egypt's Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi in 2012, Iran-Egypt relations improved slightly after a 30-year hiatus.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Egypt in February, but Egyptian hardline Salafist figures, movements and other Islamist groups reacted vehemently.

"They pose a danger to Egypt's national security," argued Salafist Nour Party representative Tharwat Attallah before the Shura Council.

"Egyptians might be deceived into [converting to] Shiism, giving Shia ideology a chance to spread in Egypt," adding Shia-Muslims are "more dangerous than naked women."

However, Egypt's economy depended heavily on tourism and has been floundering at less than 30 percent of pre-revolution levels.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

01-06-2013 05:17pm
questionable statistics
According to the information you've provided, a total of 184 Iranian tourists have visited Egypt this year. Nevertheless, you go on to state that 200,000 will visit in 2013. So just so I'm clear, you're expecting 199,816 Iranian tourists to visit egypt before the end of this year. Am I the only one who thinks this is highly unlikely?
Comment's Title

© 2010 Ahram Online.