Egypt: No bans on bikinis, alcohol for tourists

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There will be no bans on wearing bikinis and drinking alcohol for tourists coming to Egypt after the Islamist Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected president on June 24, Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily quoted Egyptian Ambassador to Russia Alaa El Hadidi on Friday as saying.

According to the paper, El Hadidi said that Egypt would not restrict tourists since tourism accounts for about 12 percent of the country’s GDP.

El Hadidi’s statement came after Morsi’s allies said during the presidential campaign that there will be a number of restrictions for tourists if Morsi is elected, including a ban on selling alcohol, wearing bikinis outside hotels and dividing beaches into male and female zones.

“Turkey is also a Muslim state. However there is no such beach division there. Why should it exist in Egypt?” the daily quoted the diplomat as saying.

Morsi, Egypt’s first civilian president since Gamal Abdel-Nasser, became president by garnering 51.7 percent of the vote after Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down by an uprising in February last year, .

The number of Russian tourists traveling to Egypt from January to May 2012 has increased by 82 percent compared to 2011 when the North African state was gripped by revolutionary turmoil, according to Egypt’s tourism authority.

Russia’s Federal Tourism Agency (Rosturism) estimated the number of Russian tourists traveling to Egypt in 2011 at 1.4 million people, which is 40 percent less than in the previous years.

The Egyptian tourism industry has been significantly affected by the Arab Spring popular uprising that toppled long-serving president Mubarak and put the country under an emergency situation.

Russia at that time warned its citizens to abstain from visiting Egypt.