Egypt's tourist industry, a major part of the country's economy, has been hurt by the continuing violence in the Palestinian territories, Egypt's tourism minister was quoted as saying Wednesday.
"The tension in the region caused by Israeli actions has negatively affected the volume of regional and international tourism," said the minister, Mamduh al-Beltagui, cited by the Al-Ahrar daily.
Israel's closure of the Rafah and Taba passage points with Egypt has blocked Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian tourists from coming into the country, Beltagui said. He added that Egypt has also seen a sharp fall in the number of tourists from the United States, which in October warned its citizens to take extreme caution because of the possibility of attacks against US citizens and interests.
Israel has also recommended that its nationals avoid traveling to Egypt, along with Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. Most Israeli tourists planning visits to the Sinai have cancelled their trips since the violence began, according to Israeli press reports.
Nearly 4.8 million visitors came to Egypt last year, a major increase over the year before, when concern was high following the November 1997 massacre of 58 tourists in Luxor by Muslim extremists. — (AFP, Cairo)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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