Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi walk during a meeting in Cairo, Egypt... POOL December 11, 2017
CAIRO – 21 December 2017: Resuming Russian flights to Egypt is a preparatory step towards the return of Russian tourism to Egypt, Riad Abdel-Sattar, Member of Parliament and of the Committee of Tourism, told Egypt Today during an interview on Thursday.
In the aftermath of the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt, Egypt Today has interviewed several parliamentarians, economists and aviation experts to assess the situation.
“Russian tourism was a source of income for many people and its return is both a political and an economic success for the whole country,” Abdel-Sattar affirmed.
All individuals interviewed shared the same opinion that the resumption of flights was both a boost economically and politically.
Similarly, Amr Mustafa, another MP and deputy of the Committee of Tourism has stated that the resumption of Russian flights is a “victory for the Egyptian state.” He added that the return of Russian tourists is also a chance for restructuring and retraining the tourism sector which requires a lot of work.
“The Russian tourism lesson teaches us to open various markets for ourselves and not to depend on just one market of tourists. We have to expand in the coming period and we should draw a clear plan to attract as many Russian tourists as possible by offering them special privileges,” Mustafa maintained.
Thinking ahead and in terms of speeding up the recovery of tourism, Mohamed Abdo, another MP who is also member of the Committee of Tourism, told Egypt Today that a professional marketing plan should be made in preparation for the return of the Russians.
“We should have a comprehensive plan for accommodating and fully securing Russian tourists… hotels should be prepared to receive them and Egypt should be ready with maximum security measures,” Abdo stated.
Regarding Egypt’s economy, Mahmoud Abdel-Gawad, an economist, believes that the resuscitation of tourism in Egypt would definitely aid in stabilizing the dollar rate. He described the return of tourism to Egypt as a “turning point” in its economy, anticipating that it would pump foreign currency into the country and decrease the rate of unemployment.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) in Cairo, Egypt December 11,... POOL December 11, 2017
On the other hand, Adel Anwar, another economist, believes that the resumption of Russian flights and tourism to Egypt reinforces Egypt’s image in terms of its security and stability.
On the same lines with what Mustafa had also stated, Anwar believes that Egypt must learn to open its channels of tourism and widen its market so as to avoid depending on one market.
General Wael el-Maadawi, former Minister of Civil Aviation along with aviator and former President of Egypt Air Tawfik Aasy affirmed that Egypt’s airports are equipped and bolstered with state-of-the-art security equipment and procedures.
“Russia planned to profit from the recent events in Egypt by seeking to gain privileges through suspending flights to Egypt,” Aasy stated, adding that “resuming the flights was delayed in such an exaggerated manner. Flights are finally decided to be resumed in February, which is not too far ahead, but it could have been much earlier.”
General Aviator Ahmed Shahin also criticized Russia’s handling of the situation in that it took too long to resume its flights to Egypt. Shahin criticized the fact that Russia has used double-standards in that it has never suspended flights to Turkey although the latter “has been witnessing horrific events, and numerous terrorist operations are carried out there every day, yet the Russian stand with Turkey was not as severe as it was with Egypt.”
The Egyptian-Russian cooperation protocol in maintaining civil aviation security was signed on December 15 after a meeting between Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi and Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov in Moscow.
The protocol intends to resume flights between Cairo and Moscow for the first time since 2015, starting February 2018.
Flights between the two countries were halted in 2015 after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai, 224 people were reported dead.
Shortly after the crash, the Islamic State’s Sinai branch claimed responsibility for the incident, which occurred in the vicinity of the Sinai insurgency led by IS affiliates following the ousting of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.