CAIRO: Egypt is focusing greater attention on developing tourist and heritage sites to help achieve sustainable economic growth and improve quality of life for citizens, said Local Development Minister Hisham Amna in Zhengzhou, China, on Monday.
Amna made the remarks in a speech at the opening session of the International Mayors’ Forum on Tourism, which is being held until Wednesday.
He said Egypt’s government has been allocating resources to develop needed infrastructure in cities with these sites.
The state has taken broad steps and adopted important initiatives over the past decade “to boost the sustainability of our cities,” said Amna.
He said the government was committed to “maximizing the benefits of the natural and cultural heritage in all our tourist cities to achieve sustainable tourism goals related to enhancing economic viability and social justice at the local level.”
The minister also touched on the unprecedented challenges that “threaten our tourist and heritage cities, such as climate change and rapid urbanization.”
Amna said: “All of this has led to pressure on our cities, especially with the rapid growth of cities, lack of planning, congestion, pollution, inefficient infrastructure, and a lack of investments in sustainable urban development … all of which represent great burdens on our cities.”
He said that developing a sustainable tourism industry requires striking a balance between environmental, economic, social and cultural needs and concerns.
Amna invited the forum’s participants to attend the 12th World Urban Forum in Cairo next year.
Amna began his China visit by meeting with Wang Kai, deputy secretary of the local Communist Party of China committee and governor of Henan Province, to discuss ways to improve cooperation on development projects.
During the meeting, Amna said that China and Egypt have strengthened ties under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and President Xi Jinping.
He said that Egypt hopes to benefit from China’s experience in successfully tackling growing urbanization, developing infrastructure, and dealing with municipal solid waste.
Amna also stressed Egypt’s commitment to supporting Beijing’s One-China policy.
Wang called for the exchange of expertise between the two countries, and for Egypt’s local government officials to visit Henan Province and sign development agreements.
Wang added that a feasibility study should be undertaken on a possible direct air link between Henan and Cairo; and for the Egyptian government to set up a consulate in the Chinese province to boost trade, tourism and investment.
The Egyptian delegation comprised Khaled Abdel Aal, governor of Cairo, Mostafa Alham, governor of Luxor in southern Egypt, and several senior officials from the Ministry of Local Development.
During the meeting, Abdel Aal said that the government had adopted several strategies and policies to improve services provided to citizens, and hoped for further cooperation with China in tourism and other sectors.
Alham said that the Egyptian government seeks to increase the participation of the private sector to boost investment. He was expected to hold bilateral meetings with Chinese officials and heads of delegations participating in the forum this week.