Nearly 4,000 Ukrainian tourists leave Egypt for countries neighbouring Ukraine: Cabinet

Zeinab El-Gundy , Saturday 5 Mar 2022

Nearly 4,000 Ukrainian tourists have left Egypt for countries neighbouring Ukraine in the past few days, Egyptian Cabinet Spokesperson Nader Saad said on Saturday.

Ukrainian tourists in one of the Egyptian airports. Photo courtesy of Egyptian cabinet Facebook page.

In media statements to the Al-Hayat Al-Youm TV show, Saad said EgyptAir and Cairo Air airlines have begun to transfer tourists who want to leave at the expense of the Egyptian government.

According to Saad, those flights will return with Egyptians who have left Ukraine for neighbouring countries.

Last week, the Ukrainian embassy requested that the Egyptian government help in transporting Ukrainian tourists to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries.

On Thursday, Ukrainian Chargé d'Affaires in Egypt Ruslan Nechai revealed in a press conference in Cairo that the embassy was coordinating with the Egyptian foreign and tourism ministries to work on evacuating nearly 20,000 Ukrainian tourists currently in the country to Ukraine’s neighbour countries especially Poland, Hungry and Slovakia in two stages.

When the crisis started and the Ukrainian government decided to temporarily close its airspace to civilian flights for safety reasons, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said that all Ukrainian and Russian tourists were welcome to extend their stay at Egyptian hotels

On Thursday, the Egyptian Hotels Association announced that the Tourism and Antiquities Fund would pay for Ukrainian tourists stranded in the country to stay at three-star hotels.  

Meanwhile, Ukrainian tourists staying at five-star and four-star hotels would be given a choice of either moving to a three-star hotel or remaining at their current accommodation at a special rate, the association said.

Egypt has been pushing forward with efforts to bring home nationals from Ukraine. Prior to the Russian invasion, around 6,000 Egyptians lived in Ukraine, including 3,000 students studying at the country's universities, especially in medicine.

Over the past several days, scores of Egyptian expats have already crossed the border into Romania, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Since Tuesday, Egyptian expats have begun to return home.

Saad added that the number of Ukrainian tourists leaving the country is expected to increase in the coming days.

Asked about the negative impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the cabinet spokesperson said the biggest impact of the crisis is in the tourism sector.

Egypt is among the top destinations for Ukrainian tourists, with about 1.5 million visiting the country in 2019.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, almost 727,100 Ukrainian tourists visited Egypt in 2020

According to Russian Ambassador to Egypt Georgy Borisenko, about 125,000 Russian tourists visited Egypt during the first two weeks of 2022.

Earlier Saturday, Russia’s state airlines Aeroflot announced that it was suspending all its international flights except to Belarus due to “additional circumstance that prevent the performance of flights.”

“It is a big hit to tourism in this period and we are looking for an alternative to compensate this loss,” Nader Saad told Al-Hayat TV channel.

Elaborating on additional negative impacts, the cabinet spokesperson also stated that there will a huge surge in the price of wheat worldwide due to the war.

Egypt gets about 80 percent of its wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine, with 50 percent coming from Russia and 30 percent from Ukraine.

“The Ministry of Supply has another 14 countries it can import from, but it will not be with the price which we used to pay to import from Russia and Ukraine.”

In 2021, Egypt imported 5.5 million tonnes of wheat, according to data released by the supply ministry in December.

Egypt’s wheat imports cost EGP 20-22 billion, while locally produced wheat costs around EGP 18 billion according to the supply ministry.

The global price of wheat has already increased from $250 per tonne to between $334 and $350 – an increase of about $100 in less than one year.

Egyptian farmers are expected to produce 5.5 million tonnes of wheat during the next season – two million tonnes more than they supplied in 2021 – according to Minister of Supply Mohamed Moselhi.

Last week, Minister Moselhi stated that Egypt’s strategic reserves of wheat – 3.2 million tonnes – are sufficient for up to four months, the minister said, adding that about half a million tonnes of local wheat have been stored from last year.

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