By Ahmed El Adly and Mohamed Mostafa
Egypt will sign a tourism sector cooperation agreement with Greece in March, enabling tourists to visit the two countries in one tourism programme, according to Greek Ambassador in Cairo Chris Lazaris.
The agreement is aimed at increasing the tourist-flow from the Far East, including China, India, and the Americas, Lazaris said.The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade represented Egypt, while the Greek Ministry of International Cooperation represented Athens during the signing of the agreement.
Lazaris told Daily News Egypt that “Greek Minister of Tourism Olga Kefalogianni will be visiting Egypt in March to sign the new agreement with the Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zaazou”. He added that the new agreement allows complete integration with the tourism sector in both countries.
During talks between Greek and Egyptian companies last week in Cairo, Lazaris said the agreement concerns visitors from countries such as China, India, Japan, and the Americas.
“According to the agreement, a Japanese tourist travelling 12,000 km to visit Greece will also be able to visit Egypt within the tourist programme, without any additional costs,” Lazaris said.
He added that the agreement will make Greece and Egypt one destination for tourists, and will contribute to increasing the numbers of tourist flowing to the two countries.
Regarding the current number of Greek tourists in Egypt, Lazaris pointed out that Greek travel agencies issued a statement declaring a relative increase in the number of Greek tourists visiting Egypt during the last few weeks.
He affirmed that, in the summer season, there will be a gradual increase in Greek tourist flow since the two countries are currently facing the impacts of the economic crisis.
Lazaris added that a strategic committee was formed between the two countries on 4 December, to develop a legal framework for any future agreements.
He said that his country is looking to increase the size of trade with Egypt to $3bn in 2015, compared to $2.4bn by the end of 2014. This represents a significant increase from the weak trade four years ago, which did not exceed $600m.
He also declared that the number of Greek companies in Egypt increased to 176 companies compared to 106 companies in 2010, pointing out that Greek investments provide roughly 30,000 direct job opportunities in the Egyptian market.
The ambassador said:“Greece is looking forward to cooperate with Egypt in the Suez Canal area and Piraeus Port in Greece, which is the largest port for exports in southern Europe and the main gate to enter Europe from the southern side. The country also hopes for greater exchange of goods passing through the Suez Canal and Piraeus Port.”
Lazaris also pointed out that the embassy is currently deciding on the size of the potential investments to be pumped into the Suez Canal Zone, and the advisory office is yet to announce its general plan.
“Greek investors are mainly interested in investing in the construction sector of factories and buildings in the industrial area which is expected to be built near Suez Canal,” the ambassador said.