Parliament’s tourism and aviation committee will start to hold meetings with members of the Tourism Investors Association and the Egyptian Federation of Tourism Chamber to hear their views concerning the unified tourism bill, according to Adel Rady, chairperson of the Tourism Investors Association at Marsa Alam.
He told Daily News Egypt that the aim of these meetings is for the private sector to participate in the roadmap of the tourism sector, which is planned to take place in the coming period after the changes the sector witnessed over the past seven years.
Last year witnessed an increase in the number of tourist arrivals to Egypt, as it reached 8.3 million tourists compared to 4.5 million during the previous year.
Tourism revenues jumped to $7.6bn in 2017, a growth of 123.5% compared to the previous year, due to the increase of tourist arrivals, especially from Germany and some Eastern European countries.
Sahar Talaat Moustafa, chairperson of the tourism and aviation committee of parliament, said that the coming period will witness the development of the legal and legislative framework that will add more structure to the tourism sector, which will take place in cooperation with the government and the private sector.
Talaat Moustafa did not explain whether the tourism committee will be the entity drafting the unified tourism law and submit it to the cabinet or the government.
She pointed out that the past period witnessed many meetings with officials from the Ministries of Tourism, Antiquities, and Aviation to develop an integrated vision concerning the sector, and to discuss more issues on funding, training, and tourism infrastructure.
Tarek Adham, a member of the Tourism Investors Association in the Red Sea, said that the tourism sector requires legal rules that are completely different from rules and regulations issued before 2011. He explained that many changes have taken place lately in terms of the problems facing the growth of that sector.
He explained, “the political situation in Egypt during the past period is stable and there will be more stability after the presidential election at the end of March, and there should be measures to prepare for the resumption of Russian and British flights to the Red Sea by the middle of this year.”
Russia stopped its touristic flights after the downing of the Metrojet airplane in October 2015, while the UK halted all its flights to Sharm El-Sheikh until present. Adham mentioned that there are many issues which should be examined before the issuing of the new law, on the top of which are issues of training, financing projects, and the fees of flight companies.
The Ministry of Tourism has ruled out setting a minimum price for hotel rooms, as it violates the rules of competitiveness among different hotels.
Ahmed Balba, head of the tourism committee of the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association, said that the Law on the Protection of Competition and the Prohibition of Monopolistic Practices has an exception related to damages affecting hotels and companies. He added that there are indeed damages occurring, in addition to losses to the state, with regards to taxes, affecting the Egyptian economy in the end.
An official at the Ministry of Tourism, who requested to remain anonymous, said that the issue of pricing below market value is one of the most important files that Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat is tackling, after several complaints from hotels and several investors.
He explained, “some investors presented complaints to the tourism committee of parliament on this matter. And indeed, we cannot allow booking a hotel room in Egypt at a rate of $10 per night. This could lead to the service that customers receive, including food and drinks, harming the reputation of Egypt abroad.”
The official stated that the prediction in the increase of numbers this year ranges between 30% and 35%, compared to the number of tourists that arrived throughout last year. He added that parliament is demanding the government not only to increase the numbers but also increase revenues, which will present greater job opportunities amid the rising rate of unemployment.
He said that there are several files which will be presented in the next period before parliament, especially that of aviation, coordination with the national company EgyptAir to develop its presence in new markets, especially those of South, East, and Central Asia, amid the rising number of tourists coming from those regions on an annual basis.