Egyptian PM Qandil positive about Iranian tourism

Ahram Online, Wednesday 10 Apr 2013

Iranian tourism flights to Egypt were recently suspended after protests by Egyptian religious conservatives concerned about spread of Shiism

Hisham Qandil
Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Qandil (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said on Wednesday that Iranian tourists had spent more money per person in Egypt than European tourists, resulting in a boost to tourism.

Qandil explained that the average spending of an Iranian tourist in Egypt is 120 dollars a day, while a European tourist spends on an average 74.1 dollars a day.

Iranian tourists were very keen to visit Egypt for religious reasons, the prime minister said, for example to complete pilgrimages to religious sites like the tomb of the Prophet Mohamed's grandson Imam Al-Hussein at Old Cairo's Al-Hussein Mosque.

However, unfortunately there are individuals who attack this kind of tourism, fearing it will lead to the spread of the Shiite sect, he added.

He also stated that the Iranian tourism is on hold until “things improve.”

Egypt has decided to suspend all incoming flights from Iran until the second half of June to evaluate the experience so far, according to comments by tourism minister Hisham Zaazou.

On 1 April, more than 50 Iranian tourists - the first official group to visit Egypt for tourism from the Islamic Republic in decades - arrived in Upper Egypt amid tight security. The visit came as part of a bilateral tourism agreement signed in February.

Zaazou said on Sunday that the suspension period will be used to review and evaluate the travel programmes between the two countries.

The unusual cooperation between Cairo and Shia-dominated Tehran caused outrage among some ultra conservative Sunni groups in Egypt. On Friday, dozens of protesters attempted to storm the residence of the Iranian chargé d'affaires in Cairo, throwing stones and scrawling offensive slogans on the outer wall.

Tourism between the two countries has been almost non-existent since all bilateral relations were severed following Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

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