The government is awaiting a full proposal from Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou, allowing receiving Russian tourists into Egypt for commodity imports from Russia, according to government spokesman Ambassador Hossam El-Kawish.
In statements to Daily News Egypt, El-Kawish said the new mechanism is not the same as the swapping system implemented during the rule of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, where he allowed full commercial bartering. Instead, it will mean buying commodities with other commodities after estimating their value in dollars, and it will be limited only to tourism activity.
He asserted that statements by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb were misunderstood as a full commercial barter.
Upcoming government meetings will be attended by specialists concerned with finding urgent alternatives to meet the decline of Russian tourists in Egypt that were affected by the decline of rouble’s value.
Elhamy Elzayyat, chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF), said that the number of Russian arrivals declined this month by 30%. He told Daily News Egypt that the bartering system followed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser was very complex and hard to implement currently due to the freedom of choice Russian tourists now have.
He added that the government’s studies of the bartering system must include ways of implementing the system and the types of goods traded for the sake of the Russian tourists.
Since the beginning of this year, the Russian rouble lost 24% of its exchange rate compared to the dollar.
President and CEO of AlMasria Universal Airlines, Hassan Aziz, said that flight procedures from Moscow and St Petersburg to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada were slower now due to the decline in the rouble’s exchange rate.
Aziz also declared that the company was planning to lower the costs of flights, but instead prices will increase by 40%, which will negatively affect the company’s flight bookings.
Egypt is planning to raise tourist flow to 3 million tourists by the end of this year. By the end of November, Russians accounted for 2.9 million tourists to Egypt.
In a press release following the inauguration of the Hurghada airport on Wednesday, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi appointed the cabinet to do studies to apply the bartering system with Russia. Tourism Minister Zaazou also demanded more security for tourists in Egypt, especially following the decline of the rouble, so that the flow remains the same.
El-Kawish confirmed that the Russian market is one of the leading markets in Egypt when it comes to tourism, which makes it hard to lower prices. However, there are other alternatives for the commodities bartering system in Moscow.