The change of the minister of tourism during this critical period has sparked concerns among organisers of foreign trips regarding the agreements former minister Hisham Zaazou signed in the Berlin stock exchange, according to a senior official in the Ministry of Tourism.
Zaazou signed several agreements with European tourism companies to increase passenger traffic to Egypt in the upcoming period. It is anticipated that the new minister will present new policies.
Ten new ministers were introduced during Wednesday’s reshuffle, including the Ministry of Tourism. The former director of hotels in the Kuwaiti Kharafi Group, Yehia Rashid, was appointed as new minister.
The official said the tourism sector hopes for improvements under the leadership of Rashid as he works in the sector and should be aware of the issues.
Tourist traffic to Egypt declined last year, in the wake of the Russian plane crash at the end of October 2015, went down to 9.3 million tourists compared to 9.9 million in 2014.
Russia issued a decision to suspend flights to Egypt at the beginning of November 2015 until the disclosure of the circumstances of the crash. Britain suspended its flights to Sharm El-Sheikh as well.
“There are many items on the agenda awaiting the new minister of tourism; recovering Russian and British trips to Egypt comes on top of the list, as well as arranging and organising the structure of the Tourism Activation Authority and the hotels sector,” the official said.
Occupancy in Sharm El-Sheikh is still low, with 20% made up of central European nationalities, such as Germany and other countries that did not impose a ban on visiting the area, according to the head of the Tour Guides Investors Association in South Sinai, Hisham Ali.
Ali hopes that inbound traffic to Egypt will increase by May, especially as the UK-based Control Risks company is about to complete its review of security procedures in Egyptian airports. The Egyptian government contracted with the British company to review airport security, starting with Sharm El-Sheikh and Marsa Alam airports.
Former minister of tourism Hisham Zazou previously said he hopes the evaluation procedures will be completed by the end of April, in time for the summer season. The official in the Ministry of Tourism said: “We know that we lost out in the winter season and we hope for summer to improve tourism.”