Tourism union speaks out against fuel subsidy removal plan

The government decision this week to remove subsidies on diesel designated for the tourism sector is a disaster, Khaled al-Mennawy, spokesperson of the Tourism Chambers Union, said Tuesday. 

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf al-Araby announced Monday that the government would lift subsidies on diesel fuel sold to the tourism sector starting in May.

The move adds to the difficulties the industry is already facing, Mennawy told CBC television program “Hona El Asema.” He said the decision would mostly affect tourist transport and river cruise ships.

“No one can afford that under the dire circumstances, as the diesel will increase to LE5 per liter,” he alleged, saying investments worth up to LE15 billion in Nile river tourism would also be threatened.

“We have already signed contracts based on the old [fuel] prices and so cannot raise the prices. It is not fair that companies carry the extra cost, especially as the sector is already facing difficult times,” Mennawy said.

Egypt's tourism, one of the country's primary sources of income before the revolution, has been hit hard by two years of political unrest.

Mennawy said the Tourism Chambers Union, during a recent meeting with Araby and the tourism minister, agreed to the gradual removal of the subsidy provided the industry begins to rebound and not before the beginning of the spring tourism season.

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