File photo: Egyptian Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Cairo, Egypt, April 7, 2016 (Reuters)
Egyptian tourism minister Yehia Rashed headed to Rome on Tuesday for talks with the Vatican's tourism officials to discuss promoting tourism to Egypt as the site of the journey of Jesus and the holy family, according to a statement by the ministry.
The visit is part of the ministry's efforts to "include the journey of the holy family as part of the country's religious tourism map,” which has the potential of “drawing a large number of tourists from around the world,” according to the statement.
The journey from Bethlehem through Egypt by the holy family –Joseph, the Virgin Mary and Jesus – took over three years.
Egyptian tourism, a main pillar of the country's economy and a key source of hard currency, has been hit hard by years of political turmoil since the 2011 revolution.
The Egyptian minister's visit comes soon after Pope Francis’ trip to Cairo last month, which has been described as "historic."
The Egyptian minister will then head to Spain for the 105th session of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organisation, scheduled for 10-12 May, where he will attend a vote for the organisation's secretary general.