Egyptian tourism authorities have sought to reassure travellers about the future of the country as a holiday destination, despite fears of a crackdown on the sale of alcohol and calls for segregated beaches.
Last week Mohamed Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party
(FJP) received a quarter of the votes in the country's first presidential
elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. A run-off for the presidency
between Morsi and Ahmed Shafik – a prime minister under Mubarak – is due to
take place on June 16 and 17.
It is feared that the election of Morsi could see such
policies put in place, but representatives from the country's tourism industry
said any changes would face strong opposition.
"These calls are just rhetoric – it is an attempt to
win votes," said Omayma El Husseini, director of the Egyptian Tourist
Office. "These people can say and promise what they want but they will not
She added that economic concerns would make such changes
disastrous and suggested that an "intellectual conflict" was
developing in the country.
"Tourism is very important to Egypt – it is the
second highest contributor to GDP," she said. "The tourism industry
and the liberal Muslims in Egypt will not let them screw it up."
At least one in 10 people in Egypt make a living through
tourism, and the country has already witnessed a sharp fall in visitors since
the last year's revolution. According to official figures, foreign arrivals
fell by around a quarter in 2011, compared with the previous year, and have
fallen by a further 10 per cent so far in 2012.
Any restrictions on the sale of alcohol and sunbathing
could have an even more dramatic impact, particularly in beach resorts such as
Sharm El Sheikh.
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