Egypt’s January 25 the events have had an adverse effect on the tourism and businesses
Cairo – Mohiy al-Kardoussy
Egypt’s January 25 Revolution and the events that followed in its wake have had an adverse effect on the tourism sector and related businesses, prompting many workers and business owners to change their activity in search for profit.
Meanwhile, some floating hotels have decided to dock along the Nile banks
. Experts have also said workers in this sector suffer from unfair wage schemes, demanding that the state “stand by the workers and do them justice in the face of poverty” in addition to introducing a minimum wage for workers in the tourism sector.
Sailboats have lowered their sails and changed tack to the shore of the Nile after dancing between its banks as young men kill time on cafes after the tourism crisis has trashed their dreams. Restaurants and hotels close their doors and tourist boats crowd the harbours as befuddled business owners change their activity from catering to foreign tourists to wedding contractors, their boats and hotels hosting wedding parties.
Hassan Ahmed, a chef on a tourist boat in Luxor said: “The sector has been greatly affected after the breakout of January 25 Revolution and the events that have followed it, causing tourists to flee, which has affected our pay.”
“The company where I work decided to give us a 50 percent pay cut, in addition to the loss of the additional commissions and inventive pay we used to receive,” Ahmed added.
Restaurateur al-Naggar Bakri said: “I have had to halve my staff, but I continued to make even more losses, so I closed the restaurant.”
“I thought of changing my business activity and turned the restaurant into a coffee shop for unemployed youths,” Bakri said, adding that his new business “brings in a small income, but it helps put food on the table for a handful of unemployed people.”
Ahmed Ali, who runs a Cairo cruise ship said a large number of floating hotels had decided to “anchor on the Nile banks in Cairo,” as some owners “took the opportunity of the halt and the crisis to take their ships to workshops for modernisation and maintenance.”
Ali also reported that a large number of cruise ships and floating hotels have “turned into stationary restaurants, to be able to bear the burden of our responsibility toward our staff.”
Another member of the tourism community, Ihab Haggag said: “I used to work on a Luxor-to-Aswan cruise ship. After the revolution emigration to coastal cities became the solution.” He made the decision to do that after he could not handle his family’s expenses anymore.
Ibrahim al-Awami meanwhile called for the creation of a syndicate for workers in the tourism industry “to protect our rights, support us in the successive crises that the country is going through, rescue us from unemployment and put us on the same footing as tourist guides, because other workers in the sector do not deserve less than that section of it.”
Tourism expert and South Valley University professor Mohammed Mahmoud Shoeib Allam wrote in a message to Prime Minister Hesham Kandil that: “Tourism plays a major role in the Egyptian economy and the young people working in this vital sector suffer injustice and marginalisation.”
“They have left their families and their homes and did not petition the state for a job or land or unemployment benefits” Allam adds.
The professor at the Faculty of Tourism and Hotels specifically said tourism workers suffered from “unfair wage policies.”
Allam demanded that the state “stand by the workers and do them justice in the face of poverty and unemployment, set a minimum wage for workers in the tourism sector at around 1,200 pounds a month, provide them with their basic needs, that additional income (allowances, bonuses, incentive pay, commissions and monthly bonuses) do not exceed 100 percent of their basic wage in accordance with the law.”
Allam also stressed in his message to the Prime Minister “the need to adhere to the National Wages Council’s decision to set the minimum wage at 700 pounds in establishments employing more than 10 people in accordance with Law no. 12, 2003, adjust any extra payment according to experience and skill levels and increase the wages of the married workers by a maximum or 25 percent and a minimum of 15 percent of the basic wage, keeping in mind the circumstances of the family and the number of individuals that the worker provides for.”
He also stressed the need to establish labour courts as a judicial body concerned with labour cases relating to disputes between workers and their employers, ensuring the application of the minimum wage and auditing pay logs in cases when the hotel does not apply the minimum wage or does not pay the workers’ wages. The court’s decisions, he said, must be obligatory.