CAIRO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Egypt’s tourism minister is heading to Tehran, the government said on Sunday, as Cairo tries to halt sliding visitor numbers and thaws relations with Iran after a 30-year freeze.
Minister Hisham Zaazou will visit the Iranian capital from Monday under a drive “to restore tourism activity into Egypt and discover new and diverse markets”, the Tourism Ministry said in a statement.
Last month President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt since Tehran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, and called for a strategic alliance with Cairo.
Egypt’s tourism sector has suffered since a popular uprising toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Waves of riots and instability have driven many tourists away.
Tourism used to account for more than a tenth of Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP) before the uprising. In 2010, around 14.7 million visitors came to Egypt, generating around $12.5 billion, but this slumped to 9.8 million people in 2011, bringing in $8.8 billion. (Reporting by Asma Alsharif; editing by David Stamp)