We respect beach tourism, says Brotherhood

Saying it wants to boost tourism, the Muslim Brotherhood has issued assurances that it will not seek to impose stringent restrictions on foreign tourists.

In a meeting on Sunday with members of the Egyptian Businessmen Association, Ahmed Suleiman, the head of the tourism committee at the Freedom and Justice Party, said that tourists would be free to wear, drink and eat what they want.

 “We’re very sorry that tourism was affected after the revolution,” added Suleiman.

On Sunday, Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said that revenues from tourism were US$8.8 billion in 2011, down from $12.5 billion in 2010.

Tourism accounted for more than a tenth of Egypt's gross domestic product before this year's upheaval. It employed an estimated eighth of the national workforce in a country of high unemployment.

“We intend to encourage cultural tourism alongside beach tourism,” he said, adding that the party also intends to bring out statues of Pharaohs that are kept in warehouses, and display them along the banks of the Nile in an open museum.

“And we will also promote medical and incentive tourism,” he said.

The success of Islamists in the parliamentary elections, in which they won nearly two thirds of seats, has raised concerns among liberals and businesses that an Islamist dominated parliament may seek to Islamize the country’s legal system.

Islamists have been under pressure to define their stances on a wide range of issues including “sin-free tourism,” where booze, bikinis and mixed bathing at beaches are disallowed.

They have sent contradictory messages, with some saying they respect people’s personal freedom, while others have argued that foreign tourists should learn to abide by the rules of an Islamic country if they choose to visit.

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