Russia opens the once most popular tourist destination - Egypt. This will be a new blow to domestic tourism, which has grown dramatically in the past two or three years. And yet a number of tourism-oriented Russian regions are ready to accept the challenge - and most importantly, tour operators do not expect an excitement around Egypt. Why?
Direct flights with Egypt can be opened in early February, made a cautious forecast by the head of the Ministry of Transport, Maxim Sokolov. According to him, the first airline that will launch regular flights to Cairo will be Aeroflot, and from the Egyptian side, respectively, EgyptAir.
The resumption of flights to Egypt, although not yet in the tourist airports of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, and in the Egyptian capital, became possible after the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
"The Russian Security Service reported to me that in general we are ready to open a direct air service between Moscow and Cairo," the Russian president said at the meeting. According to him, the parties will strive to sign an intergovernmental protocol "in the very near future." The Russian government is ready to sign a protocol on air communication with Egypt as early as this week, but this depends primarily on the Egyptian side.
Recall that the air service was interrupted in November 2015 year because of the terrorist act in the plane A321 "Kogalymavia", which flew from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. Then died 224 rights.
What does this mean for Russian tourists and tour operators? And are Egyptian hotels and beaches ready for the influx of Russian tourists?
Now those few Russians who, despite the ban of flights, still go to Egypt, do this, usually through Turkey with a transfer in Istanbul or other connecting flights of foreign airlines. Such tickets cost from 25 thousand rubles (on 20-27 January 2018 year round-trip), and sometimes get to Sharm el-Sheikh from seven to 24 hours in one direction (the shortest flights through Istanbul). While direct flights carried passengers earlier in four to five hours without a change.
Now we are talking about the resumption of only regular flights to Cairo, no one speaks about charter flights. To get to the traditional tourist beaches, you need to make a transfer and fly by local airlines to Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada. The flight may become cheaper and become more comfortable than now, but not much. "This means that the holiday in Egypt will not be exactly the price that was before the closure of the direction. Past prices at this stage, we will not get, "- says the director of the association" Tourmop "Alexander Ossaulenko.
If the tour operators are interested, it is probably possible to arrange charter flights through Cairo. After all, it was charter programs that were one of the important reasons for the low prices for Egyptian tours. "However, the huge flows that went to Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh during the season can hardly be organized through Cairo. Therefore, the tourist flow will be limited not only finances, but also such technical moments, "- says the source.
"First, only regular flights were allowed to Turkey, the price was 2,5 times higher than it became then, when there were direct charters in the recreation areas. According to Egypt, there will most likely be a similar scenario, "Osaulenko said.
Therefore, no one is waiting for excitement in connection with the opening of Egypt. Rather, the flow of tourists from Russia will develop gradually after the decline in prices. And for this it is necessary to have charters and a comprehensive tourist product. In November - December 2015, Russians paid an average of 800 dollars per tour to Egypt, along with flight, transfer, hotel and meals.
As soon as this happens - no longer depends on the Russian side. "There are security issues at specific airports. As we know, at Cairo airport there is a first-degree security terminal (where Russian carriers will fly). All that is today in the world advanced in this regard is, there is present. Then everything depends on how our specialists will assess the level of the same security in other airports, "Osaulenko said.
Russian tour operators oriented to foreign destinations, of course, will still be pleased with the return of Egypt. However, even today they have a sin to complain. This year, thanks to the stabilization of the national currency and the return of the need for vacation abroad, the number of tourist trips abroad has increased at once by 54% - to 11,6 million people. And this is only for nine months of this year.
But the market players who are focused only on domestic tourism, news from the Egyptian fields are not encouraging. "The opening of Turkey has already reduced the flows to Russian resorts, according to our estimates, by 5-7%. Turkey will take about four million Russians this year, and I think that they removed more than a million from our beaches. If Egypt appears, then a million Russians in the first year will rush there. Hence, we will lose 2-3% on the assumption that the total beach flows to our Black Sea resorts are about 20 million people, "says Sergey Romashkin, General Director of the Dolphin Tour Operator, which deals exclusively with domestic tourism.
"We are not interested in the discovery of Egypt. The competition, which is already serious in connection with Turkey, will become more acute. Egypt will only add weight to visiting areas,
- adds Romashkin.
However, Osaulenko does not see any serious problems. "There was talk that when full-fledged Turkey came, it would crash the inner direction. But that did not happen. Yes, there are separate cities where the tourist flow has stabilized. But where they used this time (the absence of Turkey and Egypt) for the development and formation of their own quality tourist products, nothing was lost. We see this in the Krasnodar region, Moscow and St. Petersburg, Altai, Kazan and Kaliningrad. There is no longer 15-20% growth, as it was the two previous years, but nevertheless their 3-4% increase, or even more, these territories receive. The domestic market in the mass became more competitive, "Osaulenko said.
As for Egypt, then, of course, it is extremely interested that the Russian tourist is back. After all, in 2014 from Russia almost three million people came to them. The interrupted Russian tourist traffic brought Egypt huge losses. The terrorist attack on the Russian aircraft in November 2015 at once eliminated more than 80% of inbound tourism, said the chairman of the tourism committee of the Association of Entrepreneurs of Egypt Ahmed Balbaa. Many hotels in Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada simply closed due to the desert.
Therefore, at first Egypt may disappoint tourists. "The market of services in Egypt for one or two times will not return to its former state. We saw in Turkey how the gradual return of service quality was normal. At first there were questions. Because the staff - the same animators, maids, restaurateurs at hotels - for years was brought up. Many did not return, we had to prepare new cadres, "says Osaulenko.
However, the Egyptians will try to attract the Russians to themselves by costly competition with Turkey. All this can be of use to Russian tourists.