By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Russia and Egypt agreed finally to resume regular flights to Cairo, Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh from August 9 after several negotiations and security inspections carried out for more than five years.
On the other hand, Egypt is particularly expecting to raise its tourism among holiday makers throughout the various cities in Russia. Egypt's resorts of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada are highly popular for foreign vacationers, not only Russians but also tourists from Western, European, Asian and African countries.
Egyptian Ambassador in Moscow Ehab Nasr said that the return of Russian tourists to Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada would have a positive impact on the national economy. Rebounding tourism will necessarily translate into a revival in related sectors, the diplomat noted, adding this should contribute to creating new jobs especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nasr made it clear that Egypt had organized visits for a Russian medical delegation to the Red Sea resort cities of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada to see for themselves quarantine measures applied at airports and tourist facilities, and the delegates were pleased with the security and precautionary measures.
With coronavirus rapidly spreading, Egypt has given the assurance to maintain strict procedures for the immediate detection [of coronavirus] upon arrival and there are strict public health standards that are being observed at hotels and tourism objects, as well as a set of strict control measures to ensure the safety and health of Egyptian citizens and tourists.
Statistics are staggering but Russians constituted the largest segment of foreign tourists visiting Egypt. According to documents, before the suspension of flights in 2015, about five million Russian tourists visited Egypt, making up one-third of all visitors to the country. Rosstat, Russia's Statistics Bureau, adds that nearly 20 percent of all Russians traveling abroad prefer Egypt.
Chair of the Egyptian Parliament's Tourism Committee Nora Ali has said that the resumption of direct Russian flights to the Red Sea represents a big boost for Egypt's economy and the tourism industry.
"The landing of the first direct Russian flight at Hurghada airport on Monday morning should be considered a moment of great happiness for the tourist industry in Egypt," said Ali, adding that "Russian tourists represent a big force for the Egyptian tourist industry."
According to Ali, "the return of direct flights between Russian cities and the two Red Sea resorts of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh is set to increase Egypt's tourism revenues by at least $2 billion."
MP Sahar Talaat Mostafa, Chair of the Egyptian Russian Business Council, also said in a statement that the return of direct flights between Russian cities and the two Red Sea resorts of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh after a six-year hiatus comes after a long period of cooperation between Russian and Egyptian authorities.
"Egypt has done all it can to make sure that direct flights between Russia and Egyptian Red Sea tourist resorts operate smoothly and that Russian tourists enjoy holidays in Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh," said Mostafa. According to Mostafa, Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh are expected to see 20 direct flights from Russian cities.
Maya Lomidze, Executive Director of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia Maya Lomidze said the resumption of regular tours to Egypt for Russians is a huge step forward for the entire tourism industry, but it is still not enough to say that the flow of tourists will grow rapidly.
Russia has its own airlines, and EgyptAir will simultaneously run four direct flights weekly between Moscow and Hurghada, while three flights are scheduled between Moscow and Sharm El Sheikh. Hurghada International Airport received on Monday the first flight coming from Moscow after nearly six years of suspension prompted by a plane crash disaster that took place in 2015.
Flight MS724 of Airbus A330-300 arrived to the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada with 300 Russian tourists on board. The airport staff received them with roses, souvenirs, and flyers that include information about Egyptian tourist destinations in the Russian language. A ceremonial water salute was held upon the flight landing at the airport.
In a statement, Board Chairman of EgyptAir Holding Company Amr Abul Enien said EgyptAir's operation of direct flights between Moscow and each of Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh coincides with the resumption of tourism flights between Egypt and Russia. He said such a step would greatly contribute to providing more services and travel options and lure in more tourists from Russia to Egypt.
All flights between Russia and Egypt were completely suspended in November 2015 after a passenger jet owned by Russia's Kogalymavia airline bound from Sharm El Sheikh to St. Petersburg exploded over the Sinai carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members, killing everyone on board. The Federal Security Service (FSB) ruled the incident as a terrorist attack leading to the abrupt cancellation of all flights from Russia to Egypt. […]