Doubts that the Russians will return to the Egyptian resorts

Russian tourism represented 30% of the total arrivals to Egypt before the accident (Getty)

The optimism of the players in the Russian and Egyptian tourism sectors did not last long after reports emerged that Moscow and Cairo reached an agreement regarding the resumption of charter flights to the Red Sea resorts in Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh in eastern Egypt next March, which was followed by a Russian denial, Amidst questioning the realism of the imminent return of Russian tourism to Egyptian resorts.

Despite the passage of more than five years since the crash of an Airbus-321 belonging to the “Kogalim Avia” company (Matroujt) in Sinai in northeastern Egypt at the end of 2015, when an armed group loyal to the terrorist organization ISIS adopted the shooting down of the plane, Russia has not resumed Air traffic except to Cairo, which makes it more difficult for Russian tourists to reach their favorite destinations on the Red Sea.

Among the factors preventing the full resumption of air traffic, two experts at the Russian Council for International Affairs (a non-commercial organization that supports decision-making in foreign policy affairs), who sought the “New Arab”, mentioned their views, Moscow’s lack of confidence in the security situation in Egypt in general, and the virus pandemic Corona, and the influential groups inside Russia that do not wish to turn the internal tourism movement abroad, in addition to the Egyptian side’s insistence that the crash of “Airbus-321” was not recognized as a terrorist act and that compensation was not paid.

The attempts of the victims’ families to search for their rights before the Egyptian courts, which issued decisions to refuse to consider the cases, have so far failed to prove the identities of the dead and their kinship with the plaintiffs.

The expert in the Russian Council for International Affairs, Ivan Butcharov, told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed: “The non-resumption of charter flights to Egyptian resorts is only partly due to the issue of compensation for the families of victims of the terrorist act over Sinai, and the official reason is that Egyptian airports do not meet safety requirements. According to statements by Russian officials, I believe that this is due to the general situation in Egypt. Unfortunately, terrorism is still one of the biggest challenges facing Egypt.

In turn, the expert in the Russian Council for International Affairs, Sergey Palmasov, reduces the importance of recent media reports about the imminent return of Russian tourism, pointing out that they were issued by Egyptian sources alone, not the Russian side.

“The media reports were based on Egyptian sources, and they may be the result of leaks that were circulated in a hurry and without coordination,” Balmasouf told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. “On the other hand, we did not see any green light for the return of flights from the Russian government or any positive reports issued by the Russian security services.” “.

Regarding the reasons that he sees as a real obstacle to the return of Russian tourism to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, he adds: “There is a strong lobby in Russia that does not want the tourism movement to shift from the resorts overlooking the Black Sea in the Krasnodar region and the Crimea peninsula so that the money remains inside the country, and there are also concerns. A real wish from the situation in Egypt, the continuation of the Corona pandemic and fears of the infiltration of the British strain of Covid-19, especially since the collective immunity from the virus in Russia has not been formed yet.

Nevertheless, it is not ruled out in Masouf that the issue of returning trips to Egyptian resorts will be decided quickly “in the event that a political decision is taken to do so, especially since Egypt has worked a lot to show its efforts to improve the security situation.”

Among the indications that Russia is seriously considering the possibility of resuming tourism to the Egyptian resorts, the statements of the Russian ambassador in Cairo, Georgy Borisenko, in early February, that Moscow is determined to resume air traffic in the event that security experts give a positive assessment.

The official Russian agency, TASS, reported last week, citing the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation, that charter flights may be resumed next March without mentioning a specific date, as determining the date of the first flight requires technical coordination and logistical arrangements, according to the Egyptian version. .

However, the Russian Federal Agency for Air Transport was quick to deny this information, describing it as “the assumptions of some media,” which increased doubts about the poor media coordination between the Russian and Egyptian sides.

The hopes of the Egyptian and Russian tourism sectors for the imminent return of Russian tourists to the Egyptian resorts increased after the visit of a delegation of representatives of the Russian Ministry of Transport and security experts to Egypt at the end of last January and early February, and they gave positive evaluations, according to media reports.

It is noteworthy that the Russian authorities announced on November 6, 2015 the suspension of flights to all Egyptian cities, including Cairo, due to the “Airbus-321” plane accident, which killed 224 people, and air traffic to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh is still suspended until today.

Russian tourism represents about 30% of the total inbound tourism to Egypt, as the number of Russian arrivals reached 2.8 million tourists in 2010, but the number decreased to 1.8 million in 2011, then to 1.6 million tourists in 2012, before it increased again in 2013 to 2.4. One million tourists, and 3.1 million tourists in 2014, according to data from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.

Over the first 10 months of 2015, the number of Russian tourists reached about 2.3 million, while Egypt’s revenues from Russian tourism reached about $ 2.5 billion in 2014, out of total tourism revenues of about $ 7.3 billion in the same year.

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