Tour operator Travco Group is planning to launch more charter flights from Dubai to Sharm El-Sheikh, Luxor, and Aswan in March during the holidays in the UAE, Vice Chairman of Travco Group Osama Bushra told Daily News Egypt on Wednesday.
Last week, Travco’s office branch in Dubai organised a charter flight to Sharm El-Sheikh. Travco Dubai usually sends charter flights on holidays to countries including Turkey, Amsterdam, and Sweden “but this time we wanted to do something for Egypt,” he said.
The flight took off from Dubai on 29 December and back on 3 January, carrying 120 passengers.
Travco Group was negatively influenced by halted flights from Russia to Egypt and the move came to support tourism in Egypt, Bushra said.
The number of tourists from the UAE to Egypt in November increased by 20% despite the consequences of the Russian plane crash in Sharm El-Sheikh, according to economic advisor to the tourism minister Adela Ragab.
Arab tourists represent 20% of the number of tourists visiting Egypt every year but in the past two years, the figure has slumped to 16%.
During the first half of 2015, there were 680,000 Arab tourists compared to 550,000 in the first half in 2014.
The Russian plane crashed in Sinai on 31 October, killing all 224 Russian passengers on board. Following the accident, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decision to ban all Russian airlines from landing in Egyptian airports. The UK also banned flights to Sharm El-Sheikh.
Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou said Egypt’s losses from the halted British and Russian flights are an estimated EGP 6.6bn over three months. He also anticipated the tourism income would drop to $6bn from last year’s $7.3bn.
Sharm El-Sheikh suffered most of the consequences of the crash since Russian and British tourists left the city on their governments’ orders, abandoning it for locals and small businesses that depend on tourism for their basic life necessities.
In mid-November, the Ministry of Tourism launched domestic tourism programmes for Egyptians to visit Sharm El-Sheikh in coordination with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the South Sinai Investors’ Association. Prices range from EGP 300 to EGP 3,500 per programme, according to hotel categories.
Egypt relies on tourism as one of its main sources of foreign exchange; it represents a significant part of the Egyptian economy. The tourism sector was said to have lost $15bn over the past five years, according to head of the Egyptian Tourism Federation Elhamy El-Zayat.