Egypt's minister of tourism, Hisham Zazou, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Cairo, Egypt Thursday, March 28, 2013 (Photo: AP)
Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou says that tourism is the "dark horse" that can save the economy in the coming phase, according to MENA news agency reports Thursday.
In a conference hosted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, Zaazou met with a number of businessmen, tourism specialists and governmental officials. The conference aimed at raising awareness on the importance of the tourism sector in generating foreign currency that will help resolve the country's current economic crisis.
Zaazou said that four million Egyptians work in the tourism sector, around which 70 other industries cluster. Zaazou said that Egypt has a strong position on the map of world tourism.
Earlier in May, Zaazou announced that the number of tourists visiting Egypt had reached some 2.86 million in the first quarter of 2013 — 14.4 percent more than in the corresponding period last year. Local tourism insiders, however, are not impressed with the relative pick-up in touristic activity.
Since the January 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has suffered unprecedented political instability, prompting several foreign governments to advise their nationals to exercise caution when travelling to Egypt.
While Zaazou asserted that the recent upswing could signify a return to the sector's pre-revolution 2010 peak — when some 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt generating $12.5 billion in revenue — industry sources expressed reservations on the minister's optimism.