$750M losses in Red Sea hotels following Russian plane crash: official
The arrival hall is empty at the Sharm el-Sheikh Airport in south Sinai, Egypt. Monday Nov. 9. AP

CAIRO: Hotels at Egypt’s Red Sea resort cities of Hurghada and Sharm al Sheikh have incurred losses estimated at 6 billion EGP ($750 million) since the crash of a Russian plane in late October, said South Sinai governor Khaled Fouda Thursday.

Speaking at in investment forum that kicked off in Sharm al Sheikh Thursday, Fouda said that “the current crisis, reflected in the sharp decrease of tourists visiting Sharm al Sheikh, is the city’s worst ever,” Youm7 reported.

Occupancy rates at Sharm al Sheikh hotels dropped to 18 percent, compared to 92 percent during the same period in 2015, Fouda said, adding that he expects the occupancy rate to reach 25 percent during the coming weeks amid the school term break.

Following a Russian plane crash that killed 224 passengers and crew late October, swift decisions were taken by a number of countries including Germany, Russia, France and the UK to evacuate their tourists from the resort town and suspend flights to Sharm-el-Sheikh after reports that a bomb may have been the cause.

However, Egypt says that an investigation into the incident has not yet decided the causes of the crash.

Number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped by 15 percent in 2015, registering only $6.1 billion, down from $7.4 billion in 2014, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said in a press conference in January.

During his visit to Cairo last week, Speaker of the Russian parliament Sergey Naryshkin said that flights between Russia and Egypt “will be resumed soon,” according to Youm7.

Egypt’s political turmoil following the 2011 January uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak has badly affected tourism sector, which has only recently started to rebound.

Egypt’s second most important source of national income after the Suez Canal provides direct and indirect employment to up to 12.6 percent of the country’s workforce.

Revenues from tourism represent 11.3 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP.)

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