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Beaming future awaits Egyptian tourism as Cairo-Moscow flights resumed

The resumption of direct Cairo-Moscow flights on Thursday will mark a great boost in the Egyptian tourism sector with hundreds if not millions of Russian tourists are expected to flock to Egypt.

Tourism experts are upbeat about the return of Russian tourists to Egypt who used to top the number of tourists flowing to Egypt.

Tourism expert Sameh Abdel-Moneim expressed optimism about the resumption of direct flights, voicing hope that charter flights between Russian cities and tourist cities in Egypt, topped by Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, would be back soon.

Abdel-Moneim said restarting charter flights will contribute to the full return of Russian tourism to Egypt.

Abdel-Moneim predicted charter flights to be resumed in August and Russian tourism would restore its high percentages within three to six months.

Until 2015 Russian tourists topped Egypt’s foreign tourist market, with three million Russians visiting the country in 2014 alone. In 2015, approximately 2.4 million Russians traveled to Egypt before Moscow grounded the commercial  passenger flights to Egypt in November 2015 after a Russian flight crashed in Sinai shortly after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.

Tourism expert Walid El-Batouty underlined the importance of marketing for tourism in Egypt, expecting about 4,000 Russian tourists to flow to Egypt in the summer season.

Atef Eglan, a member of the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association, said Egypt has a great chance to change the Russian tourists' mindset about tourism in Egypt.

He expounded that travel agencies prepared packages with varied costs and diversified itineraries, noting that Egypt will not focus on beach tourism alone.

Eglan noted that 12 travel agencies signed cooperation protocols with EgyptAir to launch as of May 1 tourism promotion campaigns to encourage Russian tourists to flow to Egypt.

Former head of the Egyptian Federation of Tourism Chambers Ilhami El-Zayat said the resumption of Cairo-Moscow flights was the beginning of the wider return of Russian tourists to Egypt. Promotional packages for Luxor and Aswan should be arranged, he said, and their marketing should start even before the travel show scheduled in Russia in September.

These packages would increase the number of Russian tourists coming to Egypt and different types of Russian tourists, he said. There was also an argument for diversifying the packages offered.

“It is important to prepare attractive cultural tourism itineraries as well as packages for beach tourism,” El-Zayat said.

The Egyptian Travel Agencies Association has also declared tightening security measures of tourist buses, tourist waiting places as well as archaeological and tourist sites.

Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Police have recently updated safety procedures for vehicle transport, including by making agencies have tracking devices en route, better training and supervision of drivers, improved over-night parking, further guards, and tour guides equipped with satellite phones in areas where there is limited mobile coverage.

Egypt has sought to improve airport security since suspending Cairo-Moscow flights, spending millions of dollars and bringing in foreign experts for inspections.

In December 2017, Egyptian and Russian officials signed a protocol on security cooperation paving the way for the flights resumption.

Since the attack, Egypt said it has installed modern baggage-scanning equipment, surveillance cameras and finger-print security gates.

Egypt has done its best for the tourism sector to flourish as this vital sector is one of the pillars of the Egyptian economy and one of the main sources of hard currency.

In November 2016, the Central Bank of Egypt devalued the pound, thus, giving momentum to the tourism sector.

In 2017, the Egyptian tourism revenues shot up 123.5% to stand at $ 7.6 billion, marking a 53% rise in the number of tourists flowing to Egypt – estimated at 8.3 million tourists.

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