Egypt is on pace to lose $280 million dollars a month from lost tourism revenues following the United Kingdom, Russia, and several other nations’ decisions to indefinitely suspend flights to the country.
The decision was made shortly after it became clear to those states that terrorism was the likely cause for the October 31 crash of a Russian airliner, which went down shortly after taking off from the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 passengers onboard.
Egyptian Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazaou announced the loss estimates Wednesday. He said that Russian and British tourists accounted for two-thirds of all visitors to Sharm el-Sheikh, Reuters reported.
Zaazou said that the Egyptian government, under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, plans to initiate a $5 million dollar public relations campaign to boost revenues in the wake of the suspected terror attack, which the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate has taken credit for.
However, Russia remains insistent upon not reversing its decision anytime soon.
“It’s for a long time. For how long – I cannot really say, but I think that for several months, minimum,” Sergei Ivarnov, a senior Russian official, told state media this week, adding that he would like to see security improve throughout the country, and not just in the Sinai.
The Egyptian tourism minister said the government will encourage its own citizens to visit other areas of the country, while also hoping to bring in citizens of the Gulf and North Africa to tour Egypt.
Tourists “have disappeared” from Sharm el-Sheikh following the suspected terror attack, the BBC reports.
“The beach is empty. It was full until a few days ago but the Russians have gone,” a tourist told the British network. “I feel so sorry for the people. I don’t know how the hotels will survive the coming weeks,” he added.
“There’s no business,” Raed, a store owner, added.
“On a normal basis we would be 90% full right now, everyone would be working and everyone would be happy,” said Amr Darwish, another business owner. “We don’t know when the tourists are going to be able to come back. You can’t make a business plan for next week, let alone next month or next year.”