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Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 19 - 06 - 2012

Just like in the first try, the second Constituent Assembly (CA) failed to include representatives from the tourism sector.
The doomed first CA had refused to invite tourism experts and investors to participate in drafting the nation's new constitution. Some officials, political parties and politicians keep on reducing the tourism sector to a marginalised activity.
I can clearly observe the frustration and disappointment overwhelming the employees and employers in the tourism sector.
Their frustration increased when they realised that the political post-revolution institutions and movements did not have a better understanding of the tourism industry's strategic and economic importance.
Under the former regime, different government offices and departments conducted outrageous and intimidating inspections in tourism facilities and projects.
Regardless of its particularly negative impact on the tourism sector, the January 25 revolution kindled the hope of tourism experts and investors. They expected that the injustices inflicted on the sector by the former regime had come to end.
Tourism employees and investors hoped equally that the revolution would lead to a new understanding and awareness of the tourism industry's indispensable role in boosting the national economy to overcome its post-revolution woes and sufferings.
Nonetheless, just weeks after the outbreak of the revolution, belligerent voices started a disparaging and militant campaign against tourism.
Worse, these voices alarmed foreign visitors interested in beach tourism, foreign women were warned about dire consequences if they refused to wrap themselves in long robes when relaxing on the beach.
But the threats began to wane due to political reasons and propaganda. Investors were assured with lip service and promises, but the peace did not last.
They became aware of renewed hostile attitudes towards the tourism industry when the first Constituent Assembly excluded tourism experts and investors from drafting the nation's new constitution.
They sighed with relief when a court dissolved the first CA and they were promised an active role in the second CA. The Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF) took the initiative by sending a message to the Speaker of the People's Assembly, Saad el-Katatni, to remind him of his promise. In their message, EFT chairman Elhami el-Zayat and board member Wagdi el-Kerdani suggested tourism sector nominees as members of the new CA.
It seems that tourism employees and employers rallying behind presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq in the election run-off made el-Katatni ignore the EFT's message and its contents.
Within this context, the tourism sector should also take some blame for the society's poor understanding and underestimation of the tourism industry and its social and economic contributions.
The tourism sector should improve its image by launching a high-level campaign, which could persuade citizens to appreciate the fact that the tourism industry is the backbone of the national economy.
If the citizens had a better understanding of tourism, they would respect the tourists and protect them from molestation, harassment and swindle.
In the meantime, the tourism sector should also launch a campaign to persuade the State and its authorities to rally behind this strategic industry and appreciate the fact that Egypt is a matchless global tourist destination.
High-level collaboration between the Tourism Ministry, the ETF and societies interested in tourism investments could motivate the State to mobilise its potentials and resources in support of the tourism industry.
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