Parliament’s tourism and civil aviation committee held a meeting on Monday with tourism investors, associations, and other stakeholders to learn their vision for developing the sector and address challenges.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat and Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF) Chairperson Nora Ali, as well as the heads and representatives of tourism chambers, tourism investors, and a number of hotel managers, as well as agents, members of parliament’s tourism committee, and others.
Nora Ali said, “we should focus on training and development of services instead of paying attention to increasing the fees imposed on investors in the field of tourism because some laws, including the irrigation law currently being discussed, disregard the right of the tourism sector.”
Investors pointed out the importance of consolidating approvals and permits being under the umbrella of only one authority.
For his part, Ahmed Al-Waseef, chairperson of the steering committee of the Egyptian Hotels Association, said that there is a serious desire by the government to develop the state’s resources by amending a set of laws, but unfortunately, some of those laws are applied retrospectively, some of which are overly prescriptive.
Hisham Gabr, member of the steering committee of Chamber of Diving and Water Sports (CDWS), explained that 80% of beach tourism is located in South Sinai, but unfortunately, nature reserves have been violated for 20 years and there is not enough protection for them.
He also explained that there are illegal entities operating in the sector. Moreover, he said, there is no kind of monitoring of them, which leads to constant accidents, and furthermore, there is no deterrent in Egyptian law for the phenomenon.
He also demanded addressing the harassment of tourists.
Nader El-Beblawi, head of the Chamber of Tourism Companies and Agencies, said that the visa system in Egypt is never understood. “For example, the Gulf states now have more than 800,000 Syrians, including businesspersons and investors. Why should Egypt not attract Syrians and facilitate their entry to Egypt to work and invest?” Beblawi asked, adding, “Cairo airport has many disadvantages related to services provided to tourists.”
Adel Al Masri, head of the Chamber of Hotel Facilities, explained that there are about 1,400 restaurants in Egypt. “We face problems with the local authorities that delay operation permits, although the only thing we need is a guarantee that the establishment will be protected.”
Manal Hussein, non-executive chairperson of Orascom Development Egypt, spoke about the importance of encouraging tourism in Taba.
Hussein explained that the Ministry of Aviation announced that the airport there will be ready for operation in mid-June.
She added that Orascom will receive tourism flights from Poland in October, hoping that the Ministry of Aviation will not postpone the operation of the airport, so as not to prevent the flow of tourists into Taba.
Ahmed Idris, representative of the tourism committee of parliament, explained that there are about 200 vessels out of 236 vessels that are not currently operating in Luxor.
For her part, Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat pointed out that the sector’s problems require structural reforms and need more time.
Al-Mashat stressed the importance of studying international experiences of countries that have a unified law of tourism before the issuance of such a law.
Sahar Talaat Mustafa, head of parliament’s tourism committee, said that the committee will work to compile the problems submitted by investors and stakeholders in order to develop the necessary solutions.