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Egypt becomes firm favourite for Ukrainians in 2017


This year has seen more Ukrainians holidaying in Egypt than ever before, helping the country’s tourism sector in gaining ground once more after ongoing political unrest and security concerns.

430,000 Ukrainian tourists visited Egypt over the first eight months of 2017, an impressive 30% more than in 2016. That number is expected to reach 600,000 by the end of the year, making Ukrainians the third largest tourist group in Egypt behind Germany and Saudi Arabia.

Egypt’s most popular destination, Sharm el-Sheikh is "at last, seeing tourists return, primarily from Ukraine, as well as Poland and Germany," according to Hisham ad-Dumayri, Head of the State Tourism Development Committee of Egypt.

A year ago, the resort town was almost empty, after many countries suspended air travel to Sharm El Sheikh due to security concerns. With most countries now flying to Egypt once more, many hotels, restaurants, and shops have returned to full-scale capacity. Flights are still prohibited from Russia and from the UK directly to Sharm El Sheikh – two of its largest source countries.

Winter destination

Ukrainian tour operators are also expecting a prosperous winter season having boosted flight programmes to Egypt. TEZ Tour Ukraine is doubling its volumes, while Pegas Touristik and TUI are also planning significant increases. Preliminary flight schedules show daily departures from Kyiv to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, even twice-daily on several dates. Lviv, Kryvyi Rih, and Vinnytsia will also have direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh.

The Ukrainian Association of Travel Agencies reports that a total of 142 weekly flights are scheduled for Egyptian resorts in November, with the lion's share – 100 – to Sharm El Sheikh. Price reductions in September and October have kept sales buoyant, with many flights already sold-out.

Increased incentives

Egypt’s flight subsidy programme for Ukrainian tour operators is due to rise from $2,000 to $4,000 per flight next year, Hisham El-Demery, Director of Egypt's National Tourism Organization, announced at UITM 2017, citing increased tourist flows as a success for the programme.

El-Demery went on to announce the introduction of e-visas for Ukrainians over the next few weeks. Intended to reduce border queues and costs for tourists, it will be a welcome step. While Sharm El Sheikh already benefits from a simplified visa regime, the move will mostly affect Hurghada as well as Marsa Alam, the relatively new resort for Ukrainians.

Egypt is also actively developing new types of tourism such as excursions, medical and pilgrimage tourism to continue its growth trends.

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