The Russian government cancelled licenses for Turkish tourist companies in Russia, which organise trips to Egypt, according to a press release on Saturday by the head of the South Sinai Investor’s Association Atef Abdel Latif.
Turkey shot down a Russian military aircraft on 24 November, alleging that it violated its airspace near the border with Syria. Since then, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to put sanctions in place to restrict the economic activity of Turkish companies and firms controlled by Turkish nationals on, the latest being 28 December.
Abdel Latif said that Turkish companies operating in the field of tourism in Russia were monopolising Russian tourism to Egypt, noting that Egypt receives 3.5 million Russian tourists annually, representing 35% of tourism in the country and making Russians the largest single group of tourists to Egypt from any country.
Abdel Latif demanded the Egyptian government and the private sector move quickly to ensure Egyptian tourism companies enter the Russian market and enter into partnerships with Russian companies to fill the gap left by Turkish companies.
Abdel Latif suggested a number of alternatives to fill this gap including that major tourism companies open offices and branches in Russia in coordination with resorts and hotels in the Red Sea and South Sinai area.
“Concurrently, the Ministry of Aviation should prepare a strategy for when the ban on Russian tourism to Egypt ends,” Abdel Latif said.
In December 2015, banks were instructed by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to postpone payments on outstanding loans for investors by six months. However, Abdel Latif has criticised the banks’ current course of action by calling it a palliative measure which does not address the need to catalyse the tourism market and ensure tourism companies are able to repay their outstanding loans.