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Tourism minister dissolves Federation of Chambers of Tourism’s board

Tourism Minister Yehia Rashid has dissolved the independent Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Tourism’s board of directors and will appoint a nine-member transitional board that will oversee the body until new elections are held.

The state-owned Al-Ahram news portal reported Rashid’s decision on Monday, stating that the move dismisses the head of each of the federation’s subsidiaries: the Egyptian Travel Agents Association, the Egyptian Hotel Association, the Chamber of Tourism Establishments, the Chamber of Tourism Commodities and Bazaars, and the Chamber of Diving and Watersports.

Rashid’s action comes after a court decision voided the Federation of Chambers of Tourism’s 2015 board of directors’ election.

Noura Ali has been announced as the head of the federation’s transitional board, reported the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper on Wednesday. Ali has stated that she will focus on improving Egypt’s international image.

On Sunday, Parliament announced plans to form a Supreme Tourism Council, which will be headed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Constituted of the president of the tourism federation, representatives of several ministries and other members drawn from the tourism field, the council will meet once every six months to address issues facing the tourism industry, including concerns about security.

The planed Supreme Tourism Council is the second initiative announced this week that will centralize power in the office of the presidency. On Sunday, Al-Ahram reported that Sisi approved the formation of a Supreme Investment Council, which he is to head, as well.

Tourism has steadily declining throughout 2016 with a March CAPMAS report indicating that the number of tourists visiting Egypt had fallen by as much as 46 percent in a year-on-year comparison.

International airlines have been wary of routing flights to Egypt’s resort town Sharm el-Sheikh since a Russian commercial flight crashed in October 2015, leaving all 224 passengers and crewmembers dead.

The Metrojet passenger plane is largely suspected to have been downed by an explosive device that was planted while it was grounded at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, prompting international concern over the state of Egypt’s airport security measures, particularly in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egypt’s tourism sector has also been negatively affected by a military airstrike that accidentally struck a tourist convoy in the Western Desert, killing 12 people including eight Mexican tourists.

Private tourism companies have also announced their intention to boycott tourism to Egypt in response to the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni. While the cause of Regeni’s death has not been confirmed, Italian investigators have dismissed possible scenarios posited by Egyptian authorities, such as the involvement of a five-member criminal gang. In April, Reuters published a report indicating that security forces had detained the Italian student before he was killed, corroborating suspicions that Egypt’s security forces were involved in his torture and death. The Egyptian state has repeatedly denied any involvement.