- (Photo: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)
Booze and bikinis are "welcome" in Egypt, according to the country's tourism minister, Hisham Zaazou, in comments aimed at attracting more tourists to the region.
The comments by Zaazou have surprised some as they come amid an increased push by radical Salafi Muslim groups in the country who have been calling for a legal ban on revealing swimwear and alcoholic beverages.
Zaazou said, "Bikinis are welcome in Egypt and booze is still being served. 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."
Egypt's tourism industry has been floored since the violent uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. As the country comes to terms with its new governance the country has had various other issues over the past few years that have also helped to keep tourists away.
That has sparked Zaazou to push a more liberal approach to bringing back tourists, and he hopes that his more open comments about alcohol and beachwear will help to raise tourism by at least 20 percent from the figures last year.
Prior to Mubarak's ousting, tourism was a big industry for Egypt; approximately 14.7 million people visited the country in 2010 alone, bringing in about $12.5 billion to the country.
However, in 2011 only 9.8 million visitors entered the country, as concerns about safety escalated. The income figure for tourism also fell from the $12.5 billion to just $8.8 billion.
Here is a video about tourism in Egypt post the ousting of Mubarak: