Egypt passes law to punish people 'harassing' foreign tourists
Egypt has passed a law allowing authorities to fine people who harass foreign tourists, as the country attempts to revitalise its ailing tourism industry.
Egyptian lawmakers approved the new legislation on Monday that will fine people pestering tourists up to 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($560), news website Parlmany reported.
The report said that the fines will be exacted on "anyone who harasses tourists and visitors at archaeological sites and museums… with the intent of begging or selling goods and services".
Parliamentarian Ihab al-Tamawy said the newly-imposed fines should have been set even higher.
"There has so far been no deterrent for people to carry out such acts that [negatively] affect tourism," Tamawy said.
Former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass said that tourist harassers should serve prison sentences because they harm the income of the country.
Tourists have long complained of rampant badgering and price gouging while visiting Egypt.
The passing of the law comes soon after Russia resumed direct flights to Egypt following a more than two-year hiatus after a bomb downed a Russian plane over the Sinai peninsula.
The number of foreign tourists in Egypt went from 14.7 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2016, on the back of the suspension of flights and turmoil following the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.
In 2017 that number recovered to 8.3 million visitors, according to official figures.
Revenues from tourism at the same time dropped by two thirds, from $11.6 billion in 2010 to $3.8 billion in 2016.