10:08 GMT22 February 2020
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    Russian tourists returning to Egypt after a year's pause will provide a significant boost to the country's economy, expert Mahmud Abdel Jawad told Sputnik Arabic.

    In an interview with Sputnik Arabic, Egyptian expert Mahmud Abdel Jawad said Russians once played a vital role in the Egyptian tourist economy and are sorely missed.

    Moscow suspended all flights to and from Egypt after a Russian A321 plane crashed in the Sinai desert on October 31, 2015 while flying from the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. It was later determined to have been the result of a terrorist attack; the internationally-condemned terrorist group Daesh claimed responsibility.

    All 224 people on board died in what became the largest civil aviation disaster in Russian history.

    "All doubts about the resumption of air traffic between Russia and Egypt are irrelevant. The Egyptian economy will get a strong impetus to develop as soon as the Russian tourists return to Cairo after a year's break. This should happen as soon as possible," Mahmud Abdel Jawad said.

    According to him, the Egyptian government is "very seriously" interested in the return of the Russian tourists to Egypt.

    Tourists enjoy the beach in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on February 19, 2014
    Tourists enjoy the beach in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on February 19, 2014

    Jawad recalled that the country's economy is going through tough times and it is very important to attract Russian tourists, who earlier accounted for 40 percent of the total tourist flow to Egypt. 

    Therefore, he added, the Egyptian government has required officials to provide the maximum level of security for Russians.

    In this vein, Cairo even agreed to have Russian experts maintain a permanent presence at Egyptian airports, he said.

    "Russia has always supported Egypt on the international political level. Returning the Russian tourists to the country of pyramids, Moscow will also support our economy," Jawad explained.

    Speaking to Sputnik Arabic, Egyptian lawmaker Samir Aliwa, for his part, praised the Egyptian security forces' efforts to improve their performance in the past year.

    "In particular, a lot of this work was done in Sharm el-Sheikh, the resort of choice for most tourists," Aliwa said, citing the Egyptian security forces' cooperation with their Russian colleagues.

    According to him, the Russian tourists were one of the pillars of the country's national budget. Despite the two revolutions in the country, Aliwa said, the Egyptian economy was kept afloat thanks to the Russian tourists, who were undeterred despite the security situation in Egypt and the presence of terrorists in the region.

    "However, the Sinai plane tragedy has changed the situation, and the Russian tourists stopped visiting Egypt," he added.

    Aliwa noted that the Russian tour operators are once again eyeing the country, and that the Russian tourists are also poised to return there because they enjoy the country's wonderful climate, competitive prices and long-term friendly relations between the people of their countries.

    In late December 2016, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said that "January 2017 is a very plausible deadline for reopening regular air traffic with Cairo."

    He said the final decision would be taken by the Russian government after it analyzed the results of an inquiry into the crash by an expert panel. "We aren't going to rush this," he added.

    Sokolov announced last fall that Egypt had greatly improved its airport security in resort cities. On November 29, Russia forwarded documents to Egypt which were necessary for the resumption of flights.

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