Booze and bikinis aren’t the first things that spring to mind when one thinks of Egypt, but the tourism minister says that despite a previous ban on both, visitors are now welcome to bare some skin and imbibe some spirits.
Hisham Zaazou is looking to ramp up the tourism trade in the country after stories of Muslim groups calling for a ban on all the things people on holiday love began to circulate. Travelers have been wary of making their way to Egypt since the 2011 uprising that took down President Hosni Mubarak, fearing for their safety.
Still, Zaazou admits that not everyone is okay with allowing tourists to do as they please.
“We had talks with these Salafi groups and now they understand the importance of the tourism sector, but still you have some individuals that are not from the leadership saying these things”, Mr Zaazou said.
Tourism has always been a huge part of Egypt’s economy; in 2010, 14.7 million visitors made the trip, generating $12.5 billion in earnings. That dropped to 9.8 million the following year, making income earnings just 8.8 billion. Still, leaders are optimistic that some changes will encourage travelers to rethink their worries. Their goal is to hit 30 million tourists with revenues of $25 billion by 2022.