Published on Monday, February 18, 2013

Egypt's move to ban alcohol sales could hit tourism

Egypt is banning alcohol sales in new urban areas prompting fears that the curbs could spread wider.

Ruling Islamists have decided not to renew licences to sell alcohol but current ones will run until they expire.

Tour operators are concerned that the current move could give a negative message to potential tourists and decision-makers in tourism and that the alcohol ban could extend to hotels.

Nabil Abbas, the vice president of the New Urban Communities Authorities (NUCA), told Reuters on Sunday that the government would no longer issue licences for the sale of alcohol in new residential settlements on the outskirts of Cairo, Alexandria and other big cities.

"NUCA has stopped renewing licenses to sell alcohol but the current ones will continue until they expire," Abbas said. "Representatives of the residents in new suburbs complained that the sale of alcohol leads to problems including attacking women and randomly ringing doorbells of people's homes."

Karim Mohsen, managing director of Sylvia Tours and board member of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association, told Reuters if the ban spread to hotels and restaurants, it could really hurt Egypt's ailing tourism industry.

He said: "The fear where tourism is concerned is not of banning alcohol stores. The fear is that alcohol would be banned from hotels which would impact foreign tourists, and in restaurants it could also impact Arab tourists.

"But the current move could also give a negative message to both final clients and decision-makers in tourism."


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