The Ministry of Interior has chosen to exempt Russian tourists from paying a $25 entrance visa upon arrival to Egypt, effective through 15 January to 30 April.
A publication sent by the Travel Documents, Immigration and Nationality Administration to tourism companies stated that the exemption would be temporary.
According to Adela Ragab, economic adviser to the Minister of Tourism, the exemption forms a means to support incoming tourism traffic from Russia, in its position as one of the most important tourism exporting countries to Egypt.
“The main reason behind the subsidy is a decrease in the value of the rouble against the dollar by more than 50%,” Ragab said, explaining that she hoped tourism traffic would not be affected throughout 2015 by the weak purchasing power of the rouble against other currencies.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the number of Russian tourists that visited Egypt during 2014 numbered 3 million, with 600,000 more Russian tourists visiting the country than the previous year.
Spending rates for Russian tourists range between $50-$55 per night, according to the Ministry, and 97% of Russian tourists come to Egypt via tourism groups through charter flights.
Hesham Ali, head of the Tourism Investors Association in South Sinai, said that Russia represents one of the most important tourism exporting countries in the area, accounting for more than 60% of tourism to Sharm el-Sheikh.
He explained that frequency of visit rates for Russian tourists average two trips per year.
The Red Sea and South Sinai are the areas most often visited by Russian tourists in Egypt.
Occupancies in Sharm el-Sheikh this week are approximately 55%, while other areas in South Sinai recorded rates of 30%, and Nuweiba/Taba 10%.
According to the deputy chairman of the Tourism Investors Association in Marsa Alam, Tarek Shalaby, subsidising flights from Russia will help reduce the decline in tourism over the next four months.
An official at the Ministry of Tourism said that initial tourism income indications last year exceeded $7bn, compared to $5.9bn in the year before.
The official, who preferred to remain anonymous, added that the ministry is working to increase that figure to $10bn for 2015.