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Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 12 - 06 - 2012

In a few days, Egypt will freely and transparently elect its new president and close the chapter of the transitional period administered by the SCAF. Learning the lesson from the debacle of his predecessor, the new president will do his best to accommodate the worries and needs of his nation. Nevertheless, the political scene is replete with conflicting and clashing changes, suggestions, speculations and predictions.
Many Egyptians have not made up their mind whether to vote for Ahmed Shafiq or Mohamed Morsi as the nation's new president. The tourism sector is not more fortunate. Since the start of the presidential election last month, this sector has been witnessing increased heated discussions.
The election divided the sector; a group of leading tourism employers and their employees preferred to remain neutral. They refused to openly declare the identity of their favourite candidate. The dispute ended in a meeting of the general assembly of the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF) under the chairmanship of Elhami el-Zayat.
The Federation declared their strong support for Ahmed Shafiq in the election runoff, based on Shafiq's announcement that he would introduce carefully planned mechanisms to upgrade the tourism industry and boost its contribution to the national economy.
ETF members are confident that the tourism industry is a driving force that could support the nation quite efficiently. Representatives of the tourism sector also appreciate Shafiq's dedication to a civil State, in which human rights, freedom of expression and all faiths are respected.
By defiantly declaring its support for Shafiq, tourism employers and employees demonstrate that their votes are instrumental in the election's second round and in elections in general. This could explain why the Islamists represented in Parliament began to criticise the tourism sector's stance.
Taking the fact into consideration that the Islamists have the majority in the Egyptian bicameral Parliament, nobody would be surprised if they failed to overcome their hostile attitude towards tourism, its employers and employees.
If Morsi became president things in the tourism sector would go from bad to worse.
Although Shafiq announced his ambitious project to boost the tourism industry, some people in this sector do not hide their support for Morsi.
One should remember that Shafiq antagonised people easily when he was Civil Aviation Minister. He was known for being stubborn, for refusing to endorse decrees urgently needed to stimulate tourism in this country.
It could be that Morsi's vague and hazy vision of tourism's future, as outlined in his presidential campaign, prompted the employers and employees in this vital sector to turn their backs on him. Morsi deliberately ignored the repeated advice to add tourism experts and strategists to his team of advisers. He seems determined to swim alone in the turbulent waters that engulf the tourism industry.
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