CAIRO: The Ministry of Tourism has set Oct. 1 as a deadline for travel agencies to install global positioning System (GPS) instruments in all their tour buses nationwide, said Tourism Agencies Chamber (TAC) Chairman Hossam al-Shaer.
“Tough measures, including suspension and/or cancellation of the vehicle license will be taken against any travel agency that neglects the application of the devices in its operating busses,” Shaer told The Cairo Post.
Stressing the need to overhaul the tourism traffic network through advanced IT systems, the Tourism Ministry is working on issuing a ministerial decree to compel all travel agencies to install the device in their buses, said Shaer.
He added the decision comes in compliance with the Tourism Ministry’s strategy to “enforce stricter adherence to norms, curb road accidents and revitalize the tourism sector accordingly.”
“It is an administrative and precautionary procedure that aims to incorporate safety requirements, trace tourists during their sightseeing and road transfers from one city to the other,” Shaer said.
According to Shaer, the TAC has commissioned the Egyptian Tracing and IT Company with providing and installing the devices along with their maintenance work.
The cost of a GPS device ranges from 2,300 EGP ($321.56) to 2,900 EGP, depending on the vehicle size, Shaer added.
In 2011, the TAC decided to oblige travel agents to install speed monitors in their buses. If operators failed to comply, their licenses were revoked.
The decision, which set the speed limit of a 14-passenger tourist van on a highway at 90 kilometers per hour (56 miles per hour), stirred controversy among drivers.
Mahmoud al-Mohamady, a tourist van driver, denounced the speed limit decision in comments to The Cairo Post, and said that 90 km/hour is too low for a highway in good condition like the Cairo-Alexandria Road.
“How can I drive 90 km per hour while non-tourist vehicles on the same road drive at 140 km per hour?” Mohamady told The Cairo Post Friday.
“In less than 2 months after the decision was issued, most of my colleague drivers tampered with the devices and adjusted them to 120 kilometers per hour,” he added.
Egypt’s road traffic fatality rate reached 42 deaths per 100,000, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report issued in 2013.