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Tourist touts in Egypt face huge fines

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Under a new bill passed by the government in Egypt last week, touts who hassle foreign tourists face huge fines. The EGP10,000 (£416) penalty is a massive sum of money for the average tout in the country and a sign Egypt is determined to stamp out the scourge at key tourist sites.

Egyptian touts typically hassle tourists with strident requests to 'ride camel', 'baksheesh (a tip) or 'buy souvenir, sir' at tourist locations ranging from the Giza Pyramids near Cairo to the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. The bill approved by the government specifically targets individuals who beg, promote or try to products or tourism related services.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi still needs to give the green light to the bill, but local travel industry experts say this should only be a formality. Local touts say the new law will only affect poor people trying to earn a living. One told international media reporters he would not be able to feed his family if he lost the income.

Egypt is only just recovering from the isolation triggered by the terrorist bombing of a flight from Sharm el Sheikh in 2015. Supporters of the new bill say the fine is not high enough and the penalty should be harsher.

Zahi Hawass is an archaeologist and former minister at the nation's Antiquities Ministry. He has been quoted by reporters as saying touts should be imprisoned as their practices are a blight on the country's tourism industry.