Sharm + Hurghada will soon be swarming with Ruskies
More Russian tourists are expected to flock to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh starting the first week of November, with tour operators reporting record demand for flight and hotel bookings, according to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia. Russians are expected to flock to the tourist hotspots after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a long holiday of paid “non-working days” due to the country’s worsening covid-19 situation. Flights to the Red Sea resort towns from Russia are already 75% booked and hotels are nearly at full capacity during the week, even after the Egyptian government lifted covid-19 restrictions on hotels, allowing them to operate at 100% capacity for the first time in 18 months. In March 2020, the government placed a 25% occupancy cap on hotels, which was then eased to 50% starting June 2020, before raising the limit to 70% in July of this year.
The mass return of Russian tourists comes a few months after direct flights from Russia to the Red Sea governorates were reinstated after a six-year-hiatus. Russia has since twice upped the number of flights between Moscow and the two resort towns to reach as many as 25 per week. Charter flights, which are currently suspended as part of Russia’s covid-19 travel restrictions, are also set to resume starting 9 November, which is expected to bring in more tourists due to their affordability.
This is all boding well for Egypt’s recovering tourist demand: Arrivals averaged 400k per month during the first five months of the year, which is nearly 40% of pre-pandemic figures. The recovery is also being buoyed by a host of Tourism Ministry policy decisions, including a promo campaign scheduled for the end of year, and subsidized loans to help tourism companies recover from the brunt of the pandemic.