ETN learned from a reliable Egyptian government source that an announcement was scheduled for today to appoint Mohamed Hisham Abbas Zaazou as the country’s new Minister of Tourism.
Hisham Zaazou, formerly the Senior Assistant to Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, has been named the new Minister of Tourism for this global destination.
Zaazou comes to this position after 30+ years in the public and private sectors. Beginning in 1980 in North America with R&H Tourism Co., he expanded operations to Egypt. He then moved on to Sakkara Travel as General Manager. His interest in the role of the public sector and tourism started when he was elected as the Director General of the Egyptian Tourism Federation followed by his appointment as Assistant to the Minister of Tourism (2008).
In 1982, Egypt had 1.4 million visitors, expanding to 12.5 million in 2009 with revenue increasing from US$300 million (1982) to US$10.6 billion (2009). Egypt became the 19th most important worldwide tourism destinations and took first place in the Middle East, North Africa, and Africa in share of market. However, in 2011, tourism to the destination dropped over 33 percent.
Looking to future growth, Zaazou is aware of the many issues that make sustainable tourism controversial. Some industry experts suggest that too many tourists destroy a destination and Zaazou concurs: “If we don’t do anything, one day we may lose even the great pyramids, because the congestion is humongous. It will be a crime if we sabotage them.”
Public-private partnerships go green
Zaazou believes that visitor numbers can be regulated, projecting that Egypt can support 20-25 million tourists. The National Sustainable Tourism Plan (NSTP) has been designed to provide regulatory means to reach the sustainability objective. The Ministry is investing US$276 million in green projects with 52 percent coming from the government and international donations, and the remainder from private initiatives.
Tourism growth is likely to come from Argentina, Brazil, China, and India. Zaasou intends to review the country’s high airport tax and take steps to reduce it. There is also an interest in increasing air lift by Sun Express and Air Berlin.
Hisham Zaazou studied accounting at the Ain Sham University in Cairo, graduating in 1976 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting. He received his post graduate certificate in Public Private Partnerships from the Harvard/Kennedy School of Business and the UNWTO certificate for courses in Tourism Sustainability, the New Consumer, and New Technologies for Promotion.