PHOTO: The Grand Nile Tower Hotel in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo via Flickr/David Stanley)
The Egyptian government is prioritizing restoration of the country's struggling tourism over its own debt collection.
According to Al-Monitor, Egypt's Minister of Tourism Yehiya Rashed confirmed government officials have agreed to hold off on collecting all deferred official fees and debts owed by Egypt's hotels until January 2018. The dues include electricity, gas, water bills and real estate taxes.
The move is designed to help investors recover while encouraging hotels to remain open amid challenging times.
However, tourism expert Hossam Akawy told Al-Monitor the decision doesn't do enough to help in the long-term. "The current situation is in dire need of such a bold step in order to put the tourism sector back on its feet again," Akawy said, suggesting that the government exempt hotels of all debt so it doesn't continue to accumulate.
Another tourism expert, Adel Salah Nagi called it a "temporary painkiller."
Egypt's tourism industry is one of the country's major sources of income—accounting for roughly 12 percent of GDP—but it was hit hard by the 2011 revolution that led to fear from potential visitors and investors alike.
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The crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 last year and the downing of a MetroJet flight in October 2015 also delivered devastating blows to the industry amid years of crippling travel advisories.
Fortunately, Nagi anticipates the destination's tourism sector will begin to bounce back during the second half of the current fiscal year as Russian tourists return and the electronic tourist visa launches in May.
Late last year the government also established a fund worth $282 million in hopes of refurbishing some of the country's hotels and resorts.