Ministry of Finance predicts 4% growth in tourism sector
Finance Minister Hani Kadry - YOUM7/Sami Waheeb
By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: Egypt’s tourism sector is expected to achieve a 4 percent growth rate during fiscal year 2014-15, according to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Finance, Al-Shorouq reported Thursday.

The survey, which comes in the framework of Egypt’s long-term economic development plan, predicted a 4 percent growth in investments related to tourist restaurants and hotels during fiscal year 2014-15 compared to a 4.2 percent decline a year earlier.

The Tourism Ministry’s economic advisor Adla Ragab even went further and predicted a 5 percent growth rate in the tourism sector for the next fiscal year.

“The predicted figure is based on the ministry’s sub-accounts unit survey related to the investment volume of travel agencies expected to be achieved during the current fiscal year,” Ragab told The Cairo Post Thursday.

The tourism industry is one of the most important sectors in the Egyptian economy, as it comprises 11.3 percent of GDP and provides approximately 20 percent of the country’s hard currency.

It is also ranked second in terms of the most important sources of income for Egypt after remittances from Egyptians abroad, and is followed by income from the Suez Canal.

But, due to the political turmoil that followed the 2011 January 25 Revolution, tourism revenue during the first quarter of 2014 declined to $1.3 billion, a 43 percent drop from the same period during 2013, according to a May Tourism Ministry statement.

“Tourism employs over 3.8 million Egyptians, and 1.7 million employees work with the tourism sector indirectly, including taxi drivers, felucca captains, employees at coffee shops, farmers and many other fields,” Hussein Badr, a tourism ministry human resources advisor, told The Cairo Post Thursday.

Furthermore, according to the U.N.’s World Tourism Organization, tourism in Egypt constituted 1 percent of all world tourism in 2009.

Since most of the tourism sector employees are un-contracted, an accurate tally of workers that have been laid off would be “impossible” Ragab said.

The chairman of a leading travel agency in Egypt, who requested anonymity, told The Cairo Post Thursday that over 70 percent of the company’s employees have been either laid off or given unpaid leave until further notice.

“The company owns eight cruise ships with over 70 employees each. Most of the un-contracted employment—like housekeepers and receptionists—were laid off,” he added.

Moataz el-Said, the head of Egypt’s Tour Guides Syndicate, told The Cairo Post Thursday that since the January 25  Revolution, there has been a notable increase in the number of tour guides who have either changed their careers or traveled to work in one of the Gulf states.

“Almost a third of 18,000 tour guides who are working in Cairo have not come to the syndicate headquarters during the past three years for the annual renewal of their membership,” Said added.

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