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Wednesday, 28 September 2022

The Russkies are coming back to the Red Sea

Russian flag carrier Aeroflot is resuming regular flights from Moscow to Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada beginning from next week, with the first flight taking off on 1 October, according to the airline’s website. The resumption of flights comes after the carrier suspended air travel to and from Egypt in March “due to unfavorable conditions” in the wake of sanctions imposed on Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine. Flights from Sochi to Cairo have been operating as usual since April by Rossiya Airlines.

We’re welcoming Russian tourists back to our Red Sea resorts with open arms: The Central Bank of Egypt is working to link the MIR payments system — Russia’s answer to MasterCard and Visa — with Egypt’s homegrown Meeza card network. MIR has become essential for Russians traveling overseas since US payments companies severed ties with Russian banks, and Egypt’s acceptance of the card would mean visitors can pay in RUB, use their cards, and access ATMs. Russian and Ukrainian tourists made up some 30-40% of all visitors to Egypt before the war broke out late February.

But our tourist numbers have been picking up even with the slowdown in Russian + Ukrainian arrivals: Tourist arrivals increased more than 85% y-o-y in 1H 2022 to reach 4.9 mn visitors, according to CAPMAS figures (pdf) released yesterday. Egypt has been working overtime to attract visitors from other European markets to drive inbound traffic, with efforts also including luring tourists from little-tapped markets in Latin America and other markets, including the Gulf.

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