German tour operator suspends flights to Egypt upon disputes with minister

Germany’s fourth-biggest tour operator, FTI, has suspended its trips to Egypt upon a disagreement between its officials and Egyptian Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed, on the sidelines of the tourism investment forum in Dubai.

Ali Okda, the company’s executive chief in Egypt, said “The suspension of the trips comes down to the arrogance of Minister Yehia Rashed, who refused to listen to the requests of the trip organizers.”

The forum was hoped to be a chance for the ministry to woo tourist companies back to Egypt after the slump in touristic trade Egypt has suffered from in the last few years.

FTI organizes 14 trips to Hurghada and seven to Marsa Alam and Luxor weekly, according to Okda. It has never stopped its flights to Egypt, despite widespread safety concerns among tourist traders with Egypt in recent years, and in particular the decision of several large tourist agencies to suspend their services in the country since the downing of a Russian plane last year.

The spat comes as a blow to the Ministry after former Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou's concerted effort to source tourism from Germany at the ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show last month.

March's trade show brought the promise of several agreements with Germany to promote tourism to Egypt, and a meeting between Zaazou and the President of the German Business Aviation Association. In a statement released at the time, Zaazou described a plan to release a new advertising campaign on German television and billboards throughout the country, in addition to launching promotional offers including low-cost airline tickets.


Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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