Return of direct flights to Egypt would boost tourism: Minister

Ahram Online , Friday 13 May 2016

Egyptian Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed in April 7, 2016 (Reuters)
Egyptian Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Cairo, Egypt, April 7, 2016 (Reuters)

The return of regular, direct flights to Egypt from countries that have halted such flights would help boost the country's ailing tourism sector, Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed said on Friday.

Commenting on Germany's decision this week to lift a ban on checked luggage on flights from Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, Rashed said that it is necessary to separate politics from tourism.

"Tourists should have the freedom to travel to any country that is not in a state of war," he was q
uoted as saying by Al-Ahram's Arabic website during an event at the Rotary Club in Cairo.

Germany decided earlier this week to ease restrictions it had imposed on flights to Sharm El-Sheikh after a Russian plane crashed in Sinai in October, killing all 224 aboard.

The restrictions led carriers to halt flights between German airports and Sharm.

A number of other countries, including the UK, also halted direct flights with Egypt after the incident.

Egypt's tourism sector, a main source of foreign currency, took a blow in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocratic president Hosni Mubarak..

Rashed also said that Egypt hopes to attract "some 60 to 70 million tourists a year" at some point.

Egypt accrued $6.1 billion in tourism revenue in 2015, down 15 percent from the year before, as the total number of tourists dropped in 2015 by 6 percent to 9.3 million and the total number of nights spent in the country declined by 14 percent.

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