The Egyptian Tourism Federation chambers came out against the industry ministry's plan to use coal as a source of energy on Tuesday, citing potential damage to the vital sector.
Chairman of the federation, Elhamy El-Zayat said that he received a memorandum from Mahmoud El-Qaissoni, the environmental advisor to the tourism minister, warning him of the negative impact using coal to power cement factories would have on tourism.
Egypt's cement sector has been campaigning for months for permission to substitute mazut and natural gas used to power cement plants with more cost-effecient coal, a proposition which the Ministry of Environment has vehemently opposed.
"Cement factories are located along the Nile, in Suez and Sinai, near several touristic destinations which are valued at billions of Egyptian pounds," stressed the memorandum, warning of environmental damage to the air, sea, and aquatic life, at a time when, according to El-Zayat, local and international tourism are heading towards ‘green tourism.'
Egypt could also lose millions of dollars in international aid for transforming to clean energy if the use of coal is approved, said El-Zayat.
Faced with fuel shortages and the burden that subsidies have placed on balance of payments, the government has been cutting energy subsidies on energy intensive industries and pushing for alternative sources of energy.
The cabinet is currently studying a proposal by the industry ministry to allow cement factories to import coal.
The proposal created controversy because of the potential negative impact of coal on the environment and people’s health.
On its part, the environment ministry met with cement factories on Monday and suggested the use of Refuse Derived Fuel, fuel derived from municipal waste such as plastics, as an alternative source of energy.