Appointment of Luxor governor threatens Egypt tourism

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Egypt’s Federation of Tourism Chambers has threatened mass resignations in protest against the appointment of a member of the political arm of a former Islamist militant group as governor of Luxor province.

Several tourism companies have cancelled their winter trips to Luxor in objection to the appointment of Adel al-Khayat.

Among the companies is Thomas Cook, a well-informed source told Al Arabiya.

The new governor belongs to the Construction and Development Party, the political arm of Gamaa Islamiya, which was blamed for a spate of attacks in the 1990s before it renounced violence.

Gamaa Islamiya claimed responsibility for an attack on a major tourist attraction in Luxor, in southern Egypt, that killed 58 tourists in 1997.

Khayat’s appointment came when President Mohamed Mursi replaced 17 of Egypt’s governors on Sunday.

The move sparked fury across the tourism sector, which has been devastated in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising that toppled Mursi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

In objection to the move, Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou submitted his resignation on Wednesday.

However, Prime Minister Hesham Qandil has refused the resignation, and asked Zazou to remain in his post until the situation is reviewed.

Adel Farid, head of the Religious Tourism Commission at the Chamber of Tourism, told Al Arabiya that the chamber is looking into how to respond to Khayat’s appointment.

Farid said he expects more trips to Luxor to be cancelled in the coming days.