Overview shot of the city of Taba – Wikimedia Commons/Mohammed Moussa
CAIRO – 4 June 2018: Egyptian and German officials are holding talks to probe the possibility of increasing flights between Berlin and Taba, amid strict guidelines imposed by the German government on tourism to Egypt.
The talks sought to address ending the German government’s precautionary measure concerning compelling German aviation companies to fly their planes at an altitude of over 26,000 feet in the sky of Egypt’s South Sinai, sources told Al-Watan newspaper.
The ministries of aviation and tourism in addition to the ambassadors of the two countries are leading the talks, according to the source. Egypt would also urge the German government to ease the tax burden imposed on the German tourism travelling to Egypt.
A German tourist travelling to Egypt would pay a travel tax that is about four times what they would pay while travelling to some other countries.
Minister of Tourism, Rania al-Mashat said in March that the value of tax imposed on German tourists differ according to the country they wish to visit, and is determined on geographical bases. A German tourist travelling to Egypt would pay up to €27 ($31.7) as a travel tax, according to Mashat. However, a tourist would pay only €7 ($8.2) if travelling to Turkey for example.
Sources also revealed that the talks aim to refresh tourism between the two countries, and increase the flights between the two countries, especially between the Red Sea cities of Sharm El-Sheikh, and Hurghada and German cities.
In January 2017, Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure announced, for the first time since the Russian plane crash that took place in Sinai, freeing aviation companies from the obligation of flying their planes over 26,000 feet.
However, Mashat’s calling on the German government to end the precautionary concerning the 26,000 feet altitude, reveals that the German government’s January decision has not been put into effect.
In October 2015, the Airbus A321, operated by Metrojet, crashed over the Sinai Peninsula, which was carrying Russian tourists returning from the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, killing all 224 on board. The crash was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
Russia, along with some other countries, had decided to suspend direct flights to Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh for an indefinite period.
Egypt has struggled since then to refresh tourism and convince countries to allow their citizens to visit the tourist attractions in the country. In April 2018, Egypt and Russia have resumed flights after more than two years of suspension.