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Egypt eyes broad tourism cooperation with China
www.chinaview.cn 2005-07-21 08:52:57

    CAIRO, July 20 (Xinhuanet by Yang Wenjing, Xin Jianqiang) -- Egyptian Tourism Minister Ahmad al- Maghrabi said Wednesday that tourism cooperation between China and Egypt will have bright prospect.

    Maghrabi made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the eve of his five-day visit to China, which is due to start on Thursday.

    China and Egypt have sound relations in all fields over the past decades and the two countries are set to work together to boost their all-round ties, among which tourism cooperation is oneof the key ways to join the two oldest civilizations in the world, said the minister.

    He expressed the hope that his visit will boost bilateral cooperation on tourism to a new high.

    Since Egypt became a Chinese travel destination country in January 2002, more and more Chinese people have become interested in Egyptian history, culture and ancient sites, said Maghrabi, adding that his country expects the number of the Chinese tourists would reach 100,000 by the end of this year.

    Meanwhile, the minister acknowledged some difficulties in attracting more Chinese tourists, especially the offer of tasty food.

    "Eating is really a problem for Chinese tourists in Egypt because of different cooking styles," Maghrabi said, "So I welcomemore Chinese to come and invest in Chinese restaurants."

    Egypt has put great emphasis on tourism as it is the country's most important export service, he added.

    Tourism is also a prime source of the country's hard currency, which alone earned 6 billion US dollars and attracted 8 million tourists in 2004, followed by oil, Suez Canal revenues and expatriate remittances.

    The Egyptian government has a 10-year plan to promote tourism, which vows to attract an extra 1 million tourists every year during the next decade, more than doubling the current total to 18million by 2015, said the minister.

    The plan will also require building 15,000 extra hotel rooms a year, bringing the total to 300,000 by 2015, which in turn will generate 2 million more jobs.

    "This qualitative leap in tourism performance will benefit fromupgrading the physical and informational infrastructures," he said.

    Maghrabi elaborated that Egyptian tourism authorities have tried to design new traveling programs besides the traditional ones in southern historic sites and along the Red Sea, in an effort to fulfil the 10-year plan.

    "Tourism promotion must be a strategic approach embraced by allcategories of the society," he concluded. Enditem

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