Egyptian tourism sector braces for influence from Ukraine disaster

CAIRO — The crisis between Russia and Ukraine, with Moscow’s invasion on Feb. 24, has solid a shadow on the tourism sector in Egypt, which depends closely on guests from the 2 nations.

There was a reported 30% decrease in tourism bookings from Russians and Ukrainians thus far in February — even earlier than the invasion, as tensions constructed whereas Russia amassed troops alongside the Ukrainian border.

Though, like different nations, Egypt noticed an enormous drop in vacationer numbers all through the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been hopes for a revival as restrictions eased and flights from Russia resumed. The Purple Beach has lengthy been a well-liked vacationer vacation spot for Russians, however after a 2015 assault by the Islamic State’s Sinai department downed a Russian airliner headed from Sharm al-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing 224 folks, Moscow suspended flights to Egypt. The ban was finally lifted final July, and Russia resumed its direct commercial flights to the cities of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheik in August. Authorities officers had predicted numbers to rise to 300,000-400,000 Russian vacationers per thirty days.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a press release Feb. 23 that the Egyptian “authorities is presently learning the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian disaster from numerous elements,” with out additional elaboration.

There aren’t any Egyptian statistics for the variety of Ukrainian vacationers in 2021, however the Ukrainian State Company for Tourism stated in a report on Jan. 25 that 1.46 million Ukrainians visited Egypt throughout the previous yr, making Egypt its second hottest tourism vacation spot after Turkey.

Peter Nathan, a member of the Board of Administrators of the state-owned Egyptian Accommodations Affiliation and the proprietor of Xperience Sea Breeze Resort, a lodge chain in Sharm al-Sheikh, informed Al-Monitor, “There’s a 30% lower within the variety of vacationers coming from Russia and Ukraine to the Purple Sea space.”

Vacationers from Russia and Ukraine are the primary guests to the Purple Sea space, and “there’s undoubtedly an influence on the variety of inbound vacationers at the moment,” Nathan added.

Numbers had already dropped in February because of the political disaster, he stated, though the charges of tourism within the final quarter of 2021 had been “very encouraging.”

In the meantime, Elhamy el-Zayat, the previous head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation and the agent of Ukraine International Airlines in Egypt, informed Al-Monitor, “The Ukrainian airways knowledgeable us that they are going to completely droop flights to Egypt this month, with out specifying a date for the resumption of flights, because of tensions with Russia.”

Egyptian tourism corporations are relying on England and Germany to make up the shortfall, he stated. 

On Feb. 25, Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Ministry announced that any Ukrainian vacationers stranded within the nation as a result of present disaster might stay till it was secure to return.

Noura Ali, the chairperson of the Egyptian parliament’s Tourism and Aviation Committee, confirmed to Al-Monitor that there had been a 25-30% drop in bookings from Ukraine in February.

In line with a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in September 2021, “Ukrainians got here in second place, after Germans, by way of numbers of inbound vacationers to Egypt earlier than the coronavirus pandemic.”

Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled al-Anany stated final June, “Ukraine was one of many first nations whose vacationers got here to Egypt for the reason that resumption of the inbound vacationer motion in July 2020, with the biggest vacationers visiting Egyptian landmarks.”

Ukrainians symbolize about 30% of the overall vacationers within the Purple Sea, Ali stated, however tourism generally declined due to COVID, and now “the numbers of vacationers from Ukraine and Russia has plummeted much more.”

In 2019, 13.1 million vacationers visited Egypt, which generated revenues of $13.03 billion. However with the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, tourism revenues fell by about 70% to $4 billion, with vacationers numbering 3.5 million, in accordance by Reuters.

In the meantime, the Egyptian Masrawy web site reported on Feb. 22 that the yr “2021 witnessed a exceptional restoration within the tourism sector, with the reopening of companies and resumption of flights, in addition to direct flights from Russia to vacationer resorts in Egypt.”

Ahmad Tariq, an accountant at a resort lodge in Sharm el-Sheikh, informed Al-Monitor, “Vacationer reservations and bookings have certainly plummeted over the previous weeks, particularly beginning mid-January, with fewer inbound vacationers coming from Ukraine and Russia.”

He expressed fears that the Ukrainian disaster might “have an effect on the work of these working within the vacationer sector.”

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