Russian officials arrive in Egypt to check security in touristic locales

Dalia Farouk, Ahram Online, Thursday 19 Sep 2013

Russian airlines are expected to resume normal touristic business in Egypt if Moscow officials put confidence in Egyptian security

File photo: Tourists are seen at a beach with a swimming ban at the Red Sea (Photo: Reuters)

An official delegation of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with security experts arrived in Egypt’s Red Sea governorate Thursday to verify that the tourist-friendly southern province is secure.

“It's expected that Russian airlines will lift their travel warnings if the delegation verifies their nationals are safe to visit Egypt,” said Yasser Mehesin, the Egyptian envoy of the Ministry of Tourism for the Red Sea.

In August, the Russian Federal Aviation Agency ordered airlines to make contingency plans for evacuating Russian tourists from Egypt due to the deterioration of security nationwide following the dispersal of major sit-ins in Cairo and Giza supporting ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Earlier this week, Egyptian Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou flew to Russia to ask the foreign ministry to remove its travel warnings on Egypt while participating in the 19th Leisure Tourism Exhibition in Moscow.

Zaazou hopes to persuade Russian officials to lift the travel warnings imposed 15 August, or to exclude the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates, which he considers safe areas for tourism.

According to Mehesin, Russian officials will meet with the Red Sea’s governor and the security directorate head. They will then hold a press conference.

Russians represent the largest tranche of tourists coming to Egypt with an average of 2.5 million per year.

In parallel news, tour operator Thomas Cook Germany will restart trips to Egypt from the end of September, just ahead of the peak winter season, Reuters reported Wednesday.

"For this reason, and in order to support tourism in Egypt, we have decided to restart our Egypt programme," Thomas Cook Germany head Michael Tenzer stated.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt in July 2013 reached 765,000, a drop of 25 percent below the same month last year, official data showed. This brings the total number of tourist visits in the first seven months of 2013 to 6.7 million, an 8 percent increase above 6.2 million in 2012.

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