Russian tourism to Egypt expected to return by January

Official sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism said that Russian tours to Egyptian resorts are expected to return in January, after over a year of suspension since the crash of a Russian aeroplane in October 2015.

The source told Daily News Egypt that restoring the Russian inflow will revive the entire tourism sector.

Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov said on Tuesday that flights to Cairo could begin from January 2017.

The newspaper Russia Today quoted Sokolov in Moscow saying that the decision is left to the Russian leadership.

He added that Egypt invited Russian experts to review Cairo International airport, but not the airports of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh.

The Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation has begun implementing a biometric ID system for employees at airports in Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh.

Mohamed Saeed Mahrous, chairperson of the holding company, said that the biometric devices for Cairo International airport arrived on Wednesday and will be installed in the coming period. The devices, he explained, will organise the entry and exit of employees, as well as track them inside the airport.

According to a source at the Ministry of Civil Aviation, a high-level Russian delegation arrived on Tuesday in Cairo to review security measures at Cairo International airport. The source added that the Russian delegation will meet with officials of the Civil Aviation Authority and inspect the new Terminal 2.

The source explained that Egyptian airports have taken all actions relevant to security requested by the Russian delegations earlier this year.

He said that the delegation’s inspection will be the first step to return Russian flights to Cairo, followed soon thereafter by restoring flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada.

He pointed out that airports are now equipped with the latest x-ray scanning devices, and that storage of footage from security cameras have been increased to 30 days.

The Russian inspection committees had asked the Egyptian side to apply a fingerprint verification system for airport employees to control their entry and exit and to check the identity of individuals going beyond the customs section and the airstrips.

The Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation signed a contract earlier this year for 35 biometrics devices with Falcon Group.

Egypt and Russia are seeking to develop a bilateral agreement, including security measures and mechanisms, which will be adhered to when resuming flights between the two countries.

Russia halted all flights to and from Egypt following the crash of a Russian Metrojet aeroplane at the end of October 2015, killing 224 people.

The Minister of Civil Aviation said in previous remarks that the state spent $42m on developing security measures and training at airports.

Tourism has been on the decline since January 2011, and several events have stalled its recovery, such as the Russian aeroplane crash.

The following month, Islamic State-affiliated group “Sinai Province” claimed responsibility for the crash, which they claim was executed with an improvised explosive device (IED).

Amid the confusion over the cause of the crash, the United Kingdom, Russia and Germany suspended their direct flights to Sharm El-Sheikh.

Several Egyptian officials visited Moscow throughout this year and invited Russian experts to inspect Egyptian airports in the hopes of resuming direct flights as soon as possible. In reaction to that, the Egyptian government intensified its security measures around touristic destinations and monuments.

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