Egypt tourism sector looks for tourism revival

 Friday, June 24, 2022 

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The Egyptian travel and tourism sector is looking to rebound from the impact of the Ukraine-Russia War amid talks between Egypt and Russia to apply the Russian payment system MIR in Egyptian resorts.

The head of the Russian Agency for Tourism (Rostourism) Zarina Doguzova held talks with Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany to discuss increasing the number of flights between Russia and Egypt.

The discussions between the two sides also dwelt on the possibility of using MIR cards by Russian tourists at Egypt’s Red Sea resorts.

Doguzova said that Egypt is one of the most preferred tourist destinations for Russians to spend their vacations. The tourists from Russia and Ukraine make up around 40% of beach holidaymakers in Egypt, according to figures from the Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Chamber of Tourist Establishments.

But tourist inflow from the two European countries was badly affected by the Ukraine war that erupted in February, putting new burdens on the tourism industry, which forms an important source of foreign currency for Egypt. Tourism revenue usually accounts for up to 15% of Egypt’s gross domestic product.

According to workers in the tourism sector, hotel occupancy rates in Egypt’s Red Sea resorts dropped by 35-40% due to the Ukraine war.

The western sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine further complicated the woes within the Egyptian tourism industry, as Moscow was blocked from US payment card firms Visa and Mastercard. The penalties have forced many Russian tourists to skip Egypt for vacation and travel to other destinations where their homegrown payment system MIR is used, such as Turkey.

The tourism specialists believe that the application of the MIR system in Egypt’s Red Sea resorts will help boost tourism inflow from Russia.

Elhamy el-Zayat, former head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, said Egypt and Russia are currently working to apply the MIR system to help revive tourist inflow from Russia.

According to data from travel insights company ForwardKeys, the number of Russian tourists in Egypt is forecast to rise by 30% between July 1 and August 31. The ticket bookings data from the travel company show a 96% increase in the number of Russian tourists in Turkey between June 1 and August 31 and an 84% increase in the UAE during the same period.

MIR was created by Russia in 2014 over fears of Western sanctions on Russian banks and businesses over its annexation of Crimea. The MIR system is applied in 10 countries: Turkey, Vietnam, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

@Al Monitor

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