Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou will soon head to Saudi Arabia to discuss a recent Saudi decision to reduce the number of Egyptian pilgrims to Mecca and Medina by 20 percent in 2013, an official source said on Monday.
The Saudi authorities’ decision to cut the number of incoming pilgrims by 20 percent applies to pilgrims from all over the world, not just Egypt.
According to Bassel El-Sisi, deputy head of the Egyptian Tourism Chamber's Islamic tourism committee, the reduction is due to the ongoing expansion of Saudi's Grand Mosque.
"Egypt officially has around 88,000 pilgrimage visas, but in fact it exceeds this number given the complementary, individual and seasonal workers' visas,” El-Sisi told Ahram Online.
"The tourism chamber calls on the government to work with the oil-rich kingdom to halt these additional visas, in which case we won't see our numbers cut," he added.
Al-Sisi went on to point out that, if the Saudi decision is implemented, several Egyptian tourism agencies would face troubles since they had already booked hotels for upcoming pilgrimages.
Egypt is one of the top countries in terms of pilgrim numbers.