Egypt Independent

Senior officials resign from Supreme Tourism Council, call for Minister’s sacking

Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed’s policies are the reason why Egypt's tourism is in a “poor condition”, say officials



A number of tourism sector representatives, including Chairman of the Red Sea Tourism Investment Association Kamel Abu Ali, have submitted their resignation to the Supreme Tourism Council this week, criticizing the sector’s lack of a clear vision to save the country’s ailing tourism industry.

“There is no clear agenda for our meetings. No preparatory meetings are being held with the employees to target the sector’s problems and find ways to solve them.  We failed to find a way to work with the Minister,” Abu Ali told Egypt Independent.

He added: “It’s not about Russia or Britain anymore. The sector is in need of structural reform and communication. the Minister has to find ways to collaborate with all the sector’s entities to be able to successfully reattract investors and target mentioned problems.”

The Egyptian Hotels Association’s steering committee vice-president Ahmed el-Waseef had also resigned from the Supreme Tourism Council on Tuesday, objecting to the policies used by Yehia Rashed, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, which he said have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars and jobs in the sector.

Earlier this week, Nasser Torki, a member of Egypt’s Hajj Supreme Committee, had also resigned, according to Al-Shorouk newspaper. He said he was not being consulted on important decisions such as a recent hike in hajj prices, which he said was ordered unilaterally by the Ministry.

Representatives from the tourism sector, including delegates for foreign tourism, hotels, religious tourism, tourism establishments and diving, met on Sunday to discuss the conditions of Egypt’s tourism in the recent months. They released a statement following the meeting which called for the sacking of Rashed.

They claimed Rashed’s policies are the reason why Egypt’s tourism is in a “poor condition”.

“What is happening now on the part of the Minister of Tourism has become a major threat and puts the entirety of the Egyptian tourism system on the verge of collapse, which is a great loss to Egypt’s economy.”

The statement released also criticized the sector’s failure to create jobs.

“We appeal to the President to urgently intervene to save the tourism sector from all the misdeeds of the Minister of Tourism – who caused division and fragmentation, and the collapse of the tourism sector – so that tourism will remain a supportive force for Egypt’s economy,” the statement added.

The spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Egypt said earlier this year it was confident that it could lure back millions of foreign visitors after the sector was heavily hit since a Russian plane crashed in the Sinai last October, killing all 224 people on board in what the President called an act of terrorism.

Rashed said in March that the number of tourists visiting Egypt this year could come close to levels seen before its 2011 uprising, encouraged by investments in airport security and a cheaper Egyptian pound.

In April, Minister Rashed said he was stepping up tourism activities by launching promotional campaigns and expanding into new markets for Ramadan, Eid and the summer vacations, with the goal of reviving visitor numbers.

The tourism campaigns were scheduled to begin during the holy month of Ramadan, targeting Arab tourists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and Jordan.

Egypt has also been planning to promote religious, medical and luxury trips, and develop new markets in India and Eastern Europe, as it pushes to resuscitate the tourism sector to pre-2011 levels within two years.