Despite Egypt’s political crisis that has damaged Egypt’s tourism industry, the minister of tourism, Dr. Hisham Zazou, successfully put Egypt in a positive light during his speech before the World Tourism Conference in Madrid last month. He relayed confidence that tourism would be back in full force as soon as Egypt moves beyond its current situation.
Participants and guests of the conference listened with great interest to Zazou’s speech as he explained that Egypt was and will always be “a real success story” and that to invest in Egypt is to “bet on a winning horse”. He concluded with the following: “We cannot forget that on our planet there is only one Nile River, one great pyramid, and one Sphinx, and that they are all in the land of Egypt. This is why the worldwide ranking of Egypt’s attractiveness to tourists is incomparable.”
This is all quite true, but in order for us to re-attract tourists to our beautiful country, we must restore security and stability by all means. Our first priority should be not only to restore Egypt to its top position on the tourism map because that is where it was before the January 25 Revolution, but also because every citizen has the right to live in peace and safety.
I often write about our country’s need for security and stability, and am a supporter of the Ministry of Interior providing adequate weapons to the police. By the same token, I understand that how and when to give arms to the police must be carefully considered. To avoid misuse, ample training must be provided and rules of engagement well defined. Under the supervision of General Tariq Mohamed Sa’ad Eddin, the Tourism Development Authority’s team of experts recently finalized “The Strategic Goals of the Tourism Development Authority until 2020.
Some of the more significant objectives concerning the diversification and increasing of tourism choices are:
• Medical tourism and health resorts, including spas in areas blessed with sulfur springs
• Eco-tourism in Egypt’s nature reserves, which not only is in vogue these days, but will help to preserve the environment for future generations
Objectives on the level of improved infrastructure are plans to build a four station desalination plant for drinking water to serve south Marsa Alam, the Aqaba Gulf and Ras Sidr. These areas are described by visitors as “heaven on earth”, and attract large numbers of international and local tourists.
I would add that it is incumbent upon the Ministry of Tourism to improve security with the tourist police in the pyramids area to protect tourists from dishonest touts. The random treatment and exploitation of our guests, especially by those who rent camels and horses in the area, damages Egypt’s reputation, and aggravates an already injured tourism market.
The exemplary work of two relatively unknown members of the Tourism Development Authority, Mr. Siraj Saad Eddin, and Mr. Tariq Abu El Atta, has recently drawn my attention. Mr. Abu El Atta’s shows considerable skill in handling tourism investors during this delicate period. And Mr. Saad Eddin, gracious as ever, balances his work uncovering any excesses committed in past tourism investment projects, and his responsibilities towards assisting current and potential investors realize new projects.