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Egypt’s tourism minister today welcomed a UNWTO call for the lifting of unnecessary travel bans preventing tourists visiting the country due to security concerns.

The comments were made at the start of the UNWTO executive council meeting in Malaga.

The meeting marks the start of Egypt and tourism minister Yehia Rashed chairing the executive council for the next 12 months.

The session focussed on the issue of security and tourism against a backdrop of governments such as the UK banning travel to parts of Egypt following last autumn’s downing of a Russian passenger aircraft after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

The UNWTO used the meeting to encourage travel to Egypt, calling for people to be positive and optimistic about global tourism and for the world to work to defeat terrorism so that tourism can develop.

It also described the global tourism movement is a cornerstone for both international economic and human development.

Rashed said: “I fully support the UNWTO’s positive message today that all unnecessary bans on travel and tourism should be lifted.

“Egypt has taken significant positive steps in addressing security issues and the UNWTO’s support is to be warmly welcomed.

“I call upon all those countries who currently possess flight restrictions to consider the UNWTO’s request positively.

“The support of such an influential United Nations body inviting the world to Egypt marks the start of a great opportunity for Egyptian tourism.

“With Egypt chairing the UNWTO executive council for the next 12 months I look forward to many more positive developments.”