Russian tourism may return to Egypt in ‘foreseeable future’ - ambassador

Friday 01-07-2016 01:26 PM

Remains of the Russian airplane that crashed over the Sinai in October, 2015

CAIRO, Jul 1 (Aswat Masriya) - Russian tourists will be able to travel to Egypt in “the foreseeable future” as resumption of tourists' flow to Egypt is a priority for both countries, Russian state-affiliated Sputnik news agency reported citing the Russian Ambassador to Egypt Sergei Kirpichenko.

The statement comes at a time when Egypt’s tourism industry is struggling to rebound after years of political turmoil and a series of incidents targeting the country’s most vital source of foreign currency.

Kirpichenko said that work on the resumption of Russian tourism to Egypt is still “underway”.

Moscow has suspended flights to Egypt after the crash of a Russian airliner in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, killing all 224 people on board. The plane was heading from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg in Russia.

Russia maintains that the crash was due to a "terrorist attack," while Egypt says that evidence is still lacking as to the cause of the crash.

Egypt’s most active militant group in North Sinai known as Sinai Province, affiliated with Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for downing the plane twice.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi acknowledged for the first time in a February speech that the plane was downed by terrorists seeking to damage its tourism industry and ties with Moscow. 

However, the Egypt-led committee investigating the crash says it has yet to find evidence that the flight was brought down by a bomb smuggled on board, as the ISIS affiliated group claimed. 

Since the plane crash, Russia among other western countries have sent delegations to inspect security measures in Egyptian airports, which Egyptian officials continued to describe as in line with "international standards."

The  number of tourists visiting Egypt fell by 47.2 per cent in March compared to the same month last year, the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) said. The agency attributed its findings to the decline in the number of Russian tourists by 99.2 per cent.

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