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Russian tourists disregard unrest and continue holidaying in Egypt

August 16, 2013, 10:32 UTC+3

On Thursday, the Russian tour operators were advised to “reduce sales on the Egyptian direction”

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Russian officials have not considered bloody clashes in Egypt that have already claimed the lives of more than 500 people and emergency rule as a reason for evacuating about 50,000 Russian tourists holidaying in that country. The Foreign Ministry only recommends that Russian citizens refrain from trips to Egypt. On Thursday, the Russian tour operators were advised to “reduce sales on the Egyptian direction”.

The spokesperson for the Rosturizm Federal Tourism Agency, Irina Shchegolkova, told the Kommersant daily that the tour operators and travel companies must inform their clients of the situation in Egypt and offer other holiday options. Late on Thursday, Rosturizm issued a report saying that the tour operators had been recommended to suspend sales of tours to Egypt “until the situation in the country gets back to normal”. “But if a tourist insists on a trip to Egypt, the travel package must be sold to him,” Shchegolkova admitted.

It will not be easy to comply with this recommendation in practice, the commercial director of Tez Tour, Alexander Burtin, says, marking that Egypt is the cheapest tourist destination.

The Rospotrebnadzor consumer rights watchdog reports that those who have already paid for the trip, and now changed their mind for clear reasons, are entitled to a full compensation, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily writes. The tourists currently staying in the country gripped by turmoil and willing to get back home, have the right to a free evacuation.

Meanwhile, tourists themselves are surprised - what is this concern all about? Everything is calm at their hotels and around them, cafes and shops are open, animation programs at swimming pools and discos continue. Everything is as usual all in all, the Komsomolskaya Pravda writes. A curfew was imposed in Sharm el Sheikh, but it was lifted immediately. As for Hurghada, no curfew was imposed there, and the only inconvenience was that on Wednesday the tourists were not let out of their hotel premises to the city. However, the tourists themselves were not eager at all to go to the city, as the hotel doors were closed at the time when the heat was at its peak and tourists were either on the beach or were dozing in their air-conditioned hotel rooms. By the time the heat subsided, the ban had already been lifted.

According to official data of the Egyptian Health Ministry, 525 people, including 43 policemen, were killed in turmoil on Thursday. Nevertheless, despite the difficulty of the situation, the Egyptian Embassy to Russia said Russian Foreign Ministry’s advice to the Russian tourists to refrain from trips to Egypt was “groundless”. According to the head of the press office of the Egyptian Embassy, Ezzeldin Shahin, “no attacks on tourists had been reported,” while the resorts continued “living a calm life”.

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