Members of parliament seeking solutions to Egypt's tourism crisis have concluded that success in the tourism sector depends on wider political reforms in Egypt.
The Parliamentary Tourism and Aviation Committee met on Thursday to discuss the current state of the tourism sector and the ongoing lack of foreign currency in the economy, agreeing that tourists will not return without political reforms.
MP Ibrahim Hamouda, a member of the committee, said that the problem of tourism in Egypt is based on political problems, pointing out that many countries have suffered from tourism-related accidents worse than Egypt's but their tourism sectors recovered quickly.
The point was echoed by Mohamed Orabi, who is also chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who said that tourism is a fragile industry closely affected by politics. He stressed the need for political reforms to rehabilitate the sector. He called for the formation of ministerial group for tourism, similar to the economic ministerial group. According to Orabi, the committee would include the ministries of tourism, antiquities, aviation, domestic trade and foreign affairs.
MP Hamdy Bakhit, who is also a member of the Committee of Defense and National Security, also called for coordination between the various ministries concerned with tourism to develop a strategy that saves the sector.
Another committee member, Mohamed Samir Abdel Fattah from the Red Sea Investors Association, said during Thursday's meeting that tourism workers have started to abandon the sector due to low salaries resulting from the decline in hotel occupancy rates.
Meanwhile, Maged Fawzi, also from the Red Sea Investors Association, said that Egypt's economy will not revive unless tourist visitor rates are back to normal. He said the tourism sector was in the process of recovery before the Russian plane crash in October, but it has now fallen into a coma.
On October 31 last year, a passenger jet crashed over Sinai, with the loss of 224 crew and passengers, most of them Russian tourists. Egyptian investigators have pointed toward a bomb planted by Islamist terrorists as the likely cause of the crash, a theory backed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
After the crash, several nations halted flights bringing tourists to Egyptian resorts, throwing the tourism sector into crisis. Egypt has been working with experts from Britain, Russia and other nations to improve security procedures at Egyptian airports in order to prevent further terrorist attacks and ensure the full resumption of tourist flights.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm