Tourism workers welcomed the decision of the cabinet on Tuesday on supporting the sector to cope with the negative effects of the Russian plane crash.
According to the head of the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Tourism Elhamy El-Zayat, all state agencies are supporting the sector, to prevent it from collapsing, adding that the tourism sector is the main source of hard currency for the Egyptian economy.
A Russian Metrojet plane fell over Sinai on 31 October, and the technical committee investigations into the details of the incident still continue. However, Russia confirmed on Tuesday that a terrorist act was responsible for blowing up the plane, as explosive traces were found in the debris.
The government decided to grant facilitations to the sector, and travel agencies affiliated to the Insurance Office of Sharm El-Sheikh received an extension for the deadline for payment of debts for a period of three months.
The government also decided to stop legal action against the companies and tourist facilities for three months, with their commitment to pay the monthly dues until a final settlement of debts is reached, according to a cabinet statement
The statement said instalment requests for tourist establishments could be accepted for a period suitable to the size of the debt, without a down payment.
The cabinet instructed Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou to quickly contract with a specialised company in international relations to change the image of the tourism sector in Egypt, to be financed from the Tourism Fund.
The Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Tourism official said Zaazou is in contact with JWT, the company with which the Ministry of Tourism contracted in August for the implementation of the promotional campaign, to seek their assistance in selecting a global company.
The official said: “JWT contracts with British company ‘Echoes’ for support in the promotional campaign to change the image of Egypt.”
According to the official, Zaazou is working to increase contacts with major international tourism companies in the European markets, in addition to the inauguration of programmes for domestic tourism by the tourism ministry.
The Ministry of Tourism has launched a tourism programme for Egyptians to visit Sharm El-Sheikh, entitled “Egypt in Our Hearts”, at low prices through cooperation with EgyptAir and the Chamber of Tourism Companies and Travel Agencies.
The deadline set by the chamber regarding requests to participate in the initiative ends on Thursday, according to an internal notice to members of the chamber.
The chamber said that the programme will not be limited to the city of Sharm El-Sheikh, but will extend to Luxor, Aswan, Taba and Nuweiba. The chamber is further coordinating with the Egyptian Tourism Activation Authority.
Adel Rady, head of the Investors Association in Marsa Allam, said state support for the sector at the moment is much needed.
Rady added that occupancy in Marsa Allam is better off than the rest of the tourist areas in Egypt, at more than 60%, and is expected to grow by the end of this month.
The total tourism income for Egypt in the first half of this year amounted to $3.2bn, with a $100m increase from the same period last year. Meanwhile, the tourism income in the third quarter of this year fell to $1.7bn, down by 14% from the same period last year.
Rady said the reduction of prices of airline tickets to various tourist destinations will increase domestic tourism by Egyptians, which will reduce the losses suffered by the sector. He demanded the continuity of this support and not limiting it to times of crisis only.