Egypt booze ban could hit tourism

Egypt booze ban could hit tourism

Plans to restrict the sale of alcohol in Egypt could have a huge impact on tourism in the area.

The Telegraph reports that that the government has said that it will no longer issue licenses to sell alcohol in some urban areas, including newly-built 'satellite cities'.

Nabil Abbas, vice-president of the New Urban Communities Authority, said: "We cannot allow stores spreading debauchery in our society."

Major resorts such as Sharm-el Sheikh are unlikely to be affected by the ban, but there are still fears that growing conservatism will have affect tourism.

However, Peter Lilley, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Travel Association, told The Telegraph that the Egyptian government is unlikely to impose further restrictions.

He said: "Egypt is very volatile so it's impossible to give cast-iron guarantees, but tourism is absolutely vital to the country's economy. Even those in government who dislike some of the 'negative' aspects of tourism which offend Muslims - such as alcohol - know it would be madness to effectively close the door to tourists."

He added: "The Red Sea Riviera was quite deliberately created as a sort of tourist enclave, almost entirely separate from the rest of Egypt and with its own rules and lifestyle, therefore it's highly unlikely this area will be subject to an alcohol ban. It's marginally more likely that a ban could be introduced which would include the Upper Egypt resorts of Luxor and Aswan - in the belief that tourists will continue to visit there whether there's alcohol available or not."

Despite continuing unrest, recent figures suggest that Egypt is attracting growing numbers of tourists. An estimated 11.5million holidaymakers visited last year, including around one million Britons, representing an increase of 17 per cent on 2011.

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Top 10 destinations in Egypt
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Egypt booze ban could hit tourism
Cairo is a mass of contradictions: its ancient monuments and medieval customs thrive within a city that's modern and cosmopolitan yet polluted, overcrowded and chaotic. In the Islamic area, narrow cobbled streets are filled with donkey carts and spice sellers. Its central landmark is Midan Hussain square, where you'll find the famous Khan-el Khalili, one of the world's largest bazaars (get your bargaining head on!), jam-packed with all sorts of trinkets. The Citadel (home to Egyptian rulers for 700 years), is a must-see, and holds other attractions, including the Military National Museum and the Al-Gawhara Palace and Museum. Head to Giza for Cairo Zoo, and the upmarket island of Gezira for the Opera House and Museum of Modern Art. But, of course, Cairo's most famous sights are the Great Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities.

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Of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one to still exist. There's three ( Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus) and the tallest (Cheops) is 449ft high - truly awe-inspiring. You can even explore the inside through labyrinths and staircases. At the same site is the Sphinx (named by the Ancient Greeks), the amazing statue with the body of a woman and head of a lion. Top tips: early mornings and late afternoons are less crowded; be prepared for hawkers on camels trying to sell you souvenirs; and don't be surprised when you see a well-known fast food chain right by the ancient wonders!
Found in Cairo's modern, commercial centre, Liberation Square, The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities is an absolute must. It holds over 130,000 artefacts, including Byzantine and Pharaonic art and sculpture, the Mummy Room, and the famous Tutankhamun exhibition. It's definitely worth getting a guide to take you round and explain the history behind the unbelievably well-preserved and beautiful objects. You'll be amazed.

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One of the coolest ways to take in the sights of Egypt is to take a cruise holiday down the River Nile. Soak up the attractions of Cairo, which sits on its banks, and go all the way from Luxor to Aswan.

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Once the ancient city of Thebes, Luxor is now a tourist haven full of hotels, souvenir shops and restaurants. Visit the Karnak Temple, which covers 100 acres, and don't miss The Great Hypostyle Hall, choc-a-block with huge statues and, of course, the Avenue of The Sphinxes. The Luxor Museum and Mummification Museum are eye-opening, and around the Luxor Temple is where you'll find shopping bazaars and rooftop cafes overlooking the river. You can even hire a felucca (small boat) and take a sunset cruise on the Nile. But Luxor is surely most famous for being home to the Valley of Kings, where Tutenkhamun's mummy was found.

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Found on the West Bank of the Nile in Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, and the Tombs of the Nobles - the Theban Necropolis - is where some of Egypt's most famous pharaohs were buried, including Tutenkhamun. The can't be-missed highlights include the Tomb of Tutankhamun, Ramses II, and the Tomb of Nefertari, (apparently the country's finest), which is newly restored and allows only 150 visitors a day for 10 minutes.

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What Aswan lacks in sights, it makes up for in location. It's the country's most southern city, and is a picturesque riverside spot. A stop-off for many cruises, it offers floating restaurants and shopping opps at Sharia el-Souq, a huge street market. There's a beautiful botanical garden on the island of Plants, and on the West Bank of the Nile you'll find the Monastery of St. Simeon. Just outside the city is the f amous Aswan Dam, the Temple of Philae, and Abu Simbel - the majestic Sun Temple of Ramses II.

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The Red Sea Coast is a hotspot for Brits seeking a bit of winter sun, and Sharm el-Sheik is the largest resort, on the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula. It's famous for its unparalleled dive sites, like the Ras Mohamed National Park, and the Thistlegorm ship wreck, and the stunning reefs also make for great snorkelling. There's hotels for every budget, from backpackers to push-the-boat-out luxury. Outside the resorts, you can shop in the souks at Naama Bay, or go quad-biking in the desert.

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On the west of the Red Sea Coast, Hurghada - once a small fishing village - is the biggest diving resort, with its warm waters, rare fish and coral reefs attracting thousands of tourists from the world over. It's also known as a bit of a party town, with lots of clubs and bars. For something a bit more laidback and less touristy, try Dahab. Commonly known as the most authentic of the Red Sea Coast resorts, it's got beautiful beaches, brilliant diving and is the best base for desert trekking and scaling the heights of nearby Mt. Sinai. Don't forget your hiking boots.

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The best way to explore Mt. Sinai and its region is by trekking, or camel and jeep safaris. Check out St. Catherine's Monastery, which has been a place of pilgrimage since the 4th century, and is now home to Greek Orthodox monks. Other highlights are Qalat al-Gindi, an 800-year-old fortress, and Hammam Faraun's hot springs and secluded beach. Just be careful on the craggy and steep way down!
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