Tourists take pictures at the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
Investors in the Egyptian tourism industry have asked for Article 17 of the recently-approved constitution to be amended.
A dialogue meeting on tourism, involving the Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou, members of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Salafist Nour Party, the liberal Wafd Party, the liberal Free Egyptian Party, and the moderate Islamic party Al-Wasat, as well as representatives of the tourism industry recommended amendments to the constitution, said the tourism minister.
The existing Article 17 reads: “Industry is an essential asset of the national economy. The state shall protect strategic industries, support industrial development, and import new technologies and their applications.”
“The dialogue recommends adding tourism to Article 17, in addition to reconsidering other articles dealing with ownership and investment,” said Minister Hisham Zazou in a press release.
“All political parties were represented in the dialogue and they all support the tourism sector,” added the minister.
Investors also asked the state to support the sector in getting soft loans, and in shifting to the use of renewable energy.
Investors invited the Egyptian president to visit south Sinai, one of Egypt’s main tourist destinations, and to meet with the investors there to understand their problems and help find solutions.
Tourism sector revenues and national hotel occupancy rates have decreased since the revolution of January 2011. Although recent signs of recovery have been reported, revenues and tourist numbers are still below pre-revolution levels.
The future of the industry has become a hot topic now that Islamist groups have come to power, with some commentators concerned that conservative groups will object to women wearing revealing swimwear on public beaches and will oppose the sale of alcohol.