Russian tourists who had Sputnik V jab are cleared to enter Egypt / News / News agency Inforos
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Russian tourists who had Sputnik V jab are cleared to enter Egypt

Russian tourists who had Sputnik V jab are cleared to enter Egypt
Context:

Russian tourists who have been vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine can visit Egypt, Egyptian Tourism and Antiquities Minister Khaled El Enany said in an interview with TASS.

"Yes," he said when asked if Sputnik V recipients from Russia can enter Egypt. "We accept all the vaccines approved by the WHO."

The minister underlined that there are several ways to enter the country now, namely a vaccination certificate, a PCR certificate made within 72 hours before arrival or a PCR test made when entering the country. "We are very flexible but once again our priority is the health of our population and of our guests," the minister pointed out.

Vaccination tourism

All people working at Egyptian resorts are fully vaccinated, while the inoculation of residents of Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh and other touristic provinces of the country is almost completed, El Enany said.

"And for the health system, all the employees in our resorts in the touristic governorates are fully vaccinated now. And we are almost finishing the vaccination for all the population in Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, the north coast and all touristic governorates," he said.

According to the minister, the Egyptian leadership during the pandemic was "very keen to preserve our staff and employees working in the industry because they are well trained and they have great experience in the field." According to him, the sphere received significant support, including people working in Egypt’s private sector and partners abroad.

"We are getting them incentive flight program, we are reducing the fuel price at touristic airports, we are reducing the fees for handling for the aircraft at Egyptian airports and touristic governorates," El Enany added.

Anti-coronavirus measures at Egyptian resorts

Russia’s chief sanitary doctor Anna Popova pointed out that there were no complaints about anti-coronavirus measures undertaken at Egyptian resorts, El Enany said.

"She [Popova] told me that the hygiene and safety precautionary measures taken by Egyptian resorts and authorities, there are no remarks on their performance. I was very happy to hear that," he said.

The Russian and Egyptian presidents agreed to resume direct air travel between Russian cities and Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, earlier in April. Several delegations of Russian aviation security experts inspected Egyptian airports ahead of the decision.

Egypt is currently safe for Russian tourists from both the coronavirus infection viewpoint and the terrorist threats, El Enany said.

"We hope that very very soon they [Russian tourists] will be able to come back in big numbers. We are ready to welcome more [tourists than] in 2014. And I assure the Russian tourists and tourists from all over the world that we will offer them the safest holiday. When I say the safest it’s from the hygiene side and the security as well. You didn’t hear about any terrorist attack in Egypt against tourists or even in Egypt during the last years. Egypt really now is safe," he said.

The minister noted that Egypt lost more than 65% of its tourist revenues in 2020. "These are the national average in the world. 2021 is a little bit better than 2020. The Russian source market is a very important one. It represented more than 30% of our inbound tourism before 2015 and more than 50% in Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada," El Enany said, voicing hope that the flow of tourists from Russia would resume.

More flights from Russia

Egypt is hoping that the number of flights to the country from Russia will be increased soon, Enany said.

"I hope but once again as I said we are not in a hurry. We understand and respect the decision of our government, including of course the Russian government. We started with five flights a week from the Russian side. They were increased on August 27 to 15 flights. We have the same number for Egyptian flights as well," he said when asked if Cairo is planning to increase the number of flights from Russia in the coming future.

"Now, we’ll have the permission from more than 40 cities. I hope this number will increase later than the charter flights can resume. But once again we understand that it’s a very critical period in the world and the priority of all governments, including our government of course, is the health of our population and of our guests," the minister added.

Russia recently increased the regular flight quota to Egypt for Russian tourists to access Egyptian resorts.

El Enany said in that the country is capable of receiving many more Russian tourists than in 2014.

"But the question, are you ready to welcome the same number as in 2014, the answer is we can welcome more than in 2014. When the Russians were more than three million in 2014, Egypt welcomed around 10 million tourists. In 2019, we welcomed more than 13 million tourists. So, we are ready to welcome tourists from Russia and from all over the world more than ever," he said.

When asked how many Russian tourists Egypt expects to see still in 2021, the minister noted that it is not up to the Egyptian side. "First of all, it depends on the evolution of the pandemic in Russia, it depends on the permission that the Russian authorities will be giving to resume charter flights to Egypt or to any other destinations, to increase the number," he added.

Vaccinate more than 14 million people

Egypt has already inoculated around 10 million people and is planning to push this number up to exceed 14 million by the end of 2021, El Enany said.

"Now, we have vaccinated in Egypt around 10 million persons. We are 100 million in Egypt. We have a very ambitious program during the next four months, before the end of the year, to vaccinate more than 14 million Egyptians. We are giving a priority for those working in the tourism industry, on the frontline with tourists of course," he said.

The minister underlined, "a very strong health system" is operating in the country today. "We have a very strong infrastructure - hospitals everywhere - and Egypt did not even suffer during the peak of the pandemic last year, in 2020," El Enany underscored.

He also recalled that last year Egypt launched "one of the biggest factories to produce the vaccines" last week. "We will be able to produce more than one billion units per year," the minister added.

Support tourist sphere

The Egyptian authorities will be able to provide support for the national touristic sphere if Russia and other countries suspend air travel with Egypt once again, El Enany said.

"I think that we are able to overcome the [touristic sphere] crisis. And now the numbers are increasing, business is running well. As I told you they are more than 50% of our numbers before the pandemic. I hope it will not happen. But in [this] case we will be ready to support the industry again," he said when asked if Cairo has concerns that Russia or other states can cancel flights to the country and whether Egypt is ready for this.

The minister explained that Egypt is a safe touristic destination. "I hope that the pandemic will not affect the world again and our country as well," he added.

Russia recently increased the regular flight quota to Egypt for Russian tourists to access Egyptian resorts.

Flights between Russia and Egypt had been fully suspended in November 2015 after a passenger plane operated by Russia’s Kogalymavia airline travelling from Sharm El Sheikh to St. Petersburg exploded over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 217 passengers and seven crewmembers on board. The FSB qualified the incident as a terror attack. In January 2018, Putin signed an executive order to resume regular flights to Cairo. The Russian and Egyptian presidents agreed to resume direct air travel between Russian cities and Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, earlier in April. Several delegations of Russian aviation security experts inspected Egyptian airports ahead of the decision.

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