Some 2.5 million tourists visited Egypt in the first half of 2001 in a sign that conflict in the neighboring Palestinian territories has not hit Egypt too hard, Tourism Minister Mamduh Al-Biltagi said in remarks published Thursday, August 2.
The minister told the independent Al-Alam Al-Yaum newspaper those figures represented a drop of less than six percent on the previous year. He said earlier this year that 5.5 million tourists had visited Egypt throughout 2000.
"The figures are positive in light of the atmosphere of tension and violence which the Middle East region is witnessing, which has hit tourism in the region as a whole," Biltagi was quoted by the government Al-Ahram paper as saying.
Both Israel and Jordan have complained that tourism has become the latest casualty of the Israeli-Palestinian violence, which erupted last September.
Biltagi said visits by other Arabs had dropped, but that more tourists from western European states like Britain and Germany, as well as Scandinavian countries, had visited Egypt.
Tourism is Egypt's largest foreign currency earner, with attractions such as the Great Pyramids of Giza and other Pharaonic sites helping to bring in $4.3 billion in 2000. ― (AFP, Cairo)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )