Jordanian tourism minister to visit Egypt to discuss Taba Heights port closure

Ahram Online, Sunday 26 Jun 2011

Troubles brew as Jordanian tourists continue their sit-in at the Red Sea port and are joined by Egyptians working in tourism in the kingdom

Jordanian Minister of Tourism, Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, will arrive in Egypt on Monday as head of a delegation sent by the Jordanian cabinet to meet Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and discuss the Ministry of Transportation’s decision to close Taba Heights port to Jordanian tourists.

A press conference to be held on 29 June in the Red Sea port and attended by Jordanian tourism companies and port officials will review the closure of the port.

About 40 Jordanian tourists are staging a sit-in at Taba Heights in Egypt after they were prevented from entering the port on their way home to Jordan.

The demonstration is now in its fourth day.

In a show of solidarity, the tourists’ sit-in was joined by 80 Egyptians working in Jordanian tourism in the cities of Aqaba and Amman who then staged a demonstration in front of the Egyptian consulate in Aqaba, according to a statement issued by several Jordanian tourism companies.

Egyptian Consul in Jordan Yasser Salah has promised to control the situation and solve the problems, sending an urgent memo to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adds the statement.

The Egyptian Consul clarified in his memo that he had met with heads of companies and workers and told them about his moves.

"What is happening is in no-one’s interest except Israel who can replace the services of Taba with those at the port of Eilat," Salah said, according to the statement.

The statement added that the Israeli media has confirmed that Israel is now beginning to promote tourist programmes for Jerusalem as an alternative to Aqaba, saying Egypt’s closure of Taba Heights shows the country is unable to protect its ports.

Taba Heights is in close proximity to three countries: Israel by land, and Saudi Arabia and Jordan by sea. Granted an International Tourist Marina license in July 2005, the Taba Heights Marina is the first legitimate port of entry in the region.

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