MOSCOW, August 26 (Itar-Tass) - All Russian tourists will leave Egypt by September 1, the Federal Tourism Agency (Rostourism) spokesperson Irina Shchegolkova said.
“Since practically all tour operators have suspended the sale of tours to Egypt and airlines are promptly transporting the remaining tourists, plus some people have decided to cut their vacations short, no Russians will be left in that country by September 1,” she told ITAR-TASS on Monday, August 26.
According to Rostourism, there were 15,000 Russian tourists in Egypt as of August 24: 7,000 in Hurghada and 8,000 in Sharm el-Sheikh. “However this figure is much smaller now as a rather large number of Russians returned home over the weekend,” Shchegolkova said.
Russian tour operators’ losses from instability in Egypt may amount to 50 million U.S. dollars, Rostourism Deputy Head Dmitry Pisarevsky said.
A Rostourism official flew to Egypt in the middle of August to meet with the Egyptian authorities in the tourist provinces and representatives of travel agencies in Egypt.
Rostourism had advised tour operators to reduce traffic to Egypt but said there was no question of evacuating Russian tourists from that country. Many Russians had started giving up their purchased tours to Egypt.
On August 15, the Foreign Ministry advised Russian citizens to refrain from traveling to Egypt. Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that “the clashes and riots in the [Egyptian] capital are quickly spreading to other cities and regions of Egypt, including those that are visited by tourists” and advised Russian citizens to refrain from travelling to Egypt.
The ministry said that the situation in the country in general remained tense. Mass clashes between police and the supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi occurred in Cairo, Alexandria and other Egyptian cities. A state of emergency and a curfew were introduced.
According to official reports, about 900 people have been killed and thousands injured in Egypt since the start of the acute phase of confrontation in the country.
There are no casualties among the Russian tourists vacationing in Egypt now, the Foreign Ministry said. It advised Russian citizens in Egypt to avoid areas where mass protests are taking place, and those who are arriving in the country as tourists to refrain from trips beyond the resorts and exclude visits to Cairo and other major cities.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “very disturbing conditions continue” in Egypt.
“In the great, historic whirlwind known as the Arab Spring, the Egyptian people achieved victory that set them toward freedom and democracy. However, after former President Mohamad Morsi was ousted from office recently, Egypt has been plagued by extreme polarization and violent clashes, costing countless human lives,” he said.
Ban sent his Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman, who is in charge of Political Affairs, to the Middle East in a bid to ease tensions there, in cooperation with the concerned States. He urged “the Egyptian military as well as all leaders of various political blocs to put an immediately stop to the violence and embark on a process of national reconciliation and unity. All leaders must look beyond partisan interests to find a political resolution through engagement and compromise. This should be based on a perspective of placing the utmost priority on the happiness and wellbeing of the people.”