UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, and President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, David Scowsill made an official visit to Cairo, Egypt on 29 May.
Meeting with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Tourism, Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour, as well as other public and private tourism representatives, Mr. Rifai and Mr. Scowsill expressed the commitment of the international tourism community to support the sector as a key component of Egypt’s transition.
Prime Minister Sharaf confirmed the strategic importance of tourism for the country’s economic recovery and social stability, especially in the current transition period. “We appreciate your visit and support; tourism is a critical activity for Egypt,” he said. “This is a time for action which will help us get through the current bottleneck; the more we do together, the better,” he added.
“International tourists are slowly beginning to return to Egypt. The sector is a lifeline for our economy and in 2010 accounted for 11.5% of our GDP and US$ 13 billion in revenues. We count on UNWTO and WTTC for the right advice and support,” said the Minister of Tourism, Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour.
Mr. Rifai praised the high political support shown for tourism; the principal foreign exchange earner and a leading job creator in Egypt. “Tourism is clearly seen as a national priority involving all areas of public policy and thus can be a major contributor to consolidate the transition,” he said. “Moreover, throughout my visit it has been very clear that the Egyptian tourism sector is fully operational and ready to receive visitors,” he added.
Mr. Scowsill also highlighted the importance of close collaboration between global public and private tourism players, along with the need to clearly communicate the stability in the country. “Egyptian tourism has recovered quickly from setbacks in the past, and it is good to see that visitors are now coming back. Given the current difficulties in the region, it is important for the industry to get a clear message out that the new Egypt is stable and open for business,” he said.
In his meetings with tourism stakeholders, Mr. Rifai underscored the importance of the backing of the international community to Egypt, both politically and financially, as witnessed by the recent announcements of the G8 and the World Bank to commit substantial funds for the country. “Egypt is not only the leading tourism destination in the region, but also a central piece for its political and economic stability,” he said.