Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou has revealed his hopes for a boost in Chinese visitors to the country, while celebrating the Spring Festival with 350 Chinese guests in Hurghada, a well-known tourist destination by the Red Sea.
Zaazou and the Chinese ambassador to Egypt, Song Aiguo, flew to Hurghada from Cairo on Sunday to receive the group, alongside Ahmed Abdalla, Governor of Red Sea in Egypt, treating the visitors to a sound and light show featuring miniature landscapes of famous Egyptian historical monuments, and Chinese and Egyptian dances.
"There have been 3,000 Chinese tourists coming to Egypt since Jan. 30 (2014) and we hope to see a much bigger number in the future," said Zaazou, adding that his country appreciated efforts made by the Chinese embassy to promote tourism in Egypt though joint events with the ministry.
Describing Egypt as a "glamorous travel destination" for Chinese tourists, Song said he expected Chinese visitors would take their positive experiences of the country back to China.
He added: "There will be a series of celebrations for the Spring Festival next week in Cairo and we welcome Egyptian people and all the Chinese people in Egypt to attend."
As one of the longest holidays in China, the seven-day Spring Festival is a good opportunity for Chinese people to travel abroad.
Egypt has suffered a sharp decline in tourism due to three years of turmoil, including two mass uprisings that toppled two presidents. The unrest led many countries, including China, to ban citizens from visiting for their own safety. China lifted the travel ban last September.
Cui Qian, a Chinese tourist from Beijing, told Xinhua that he had made the decision to visit Egypt despite worries from relatives and friends about the security situation in the country.
"It's not like what they imagined. It's safe here in Egypt," said Cui, showing pictures he'd taken around Tahrir Square, a site often used for demonstrations and protests, and the focal point of clashes in 2011.
Tourism is one of the main sources of national income in Egypt and about four million Egyptians work in the industry. In 2010, it brought the country about 13 billion U.S. dollars as over 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt.
However, since the political chaos following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the number of annual tourists decreased to 9.8 million. It returned to 11.5 million in 2012 after Morsi was elected as president, and declined again to 9.5 million in 2013 following his ouster.