Is it dangerous to fly to Egypt now?
Russians are worried whether it is not dangerous to fly to Egypt now against the background of the special operation in Ukraine, the flow of European sanctions and the coronovirus. Russian citizens, going on vacation to the country of the pyramids, are worried if Egypt has closed its borders to tourists from Russia, as did countries in Europe.
Attitude to Russian tourists in Egypt
Egypt is one of the few countries where travelers from Russia can go on vacation. The country maintains a friendly attitude to Russian and Ukrainian tourists, the official position of Egypt in relation to the events in Ukraine is neutral, the conflict between Moscow and Kiev is not assessed in any way. Also, the majority of local residents are friendly to the Russians.
According to the decision of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt, tourists from Russia and Ukraine, who were not able to return home due to the closure of airspace, can stay in hotels for free. There is a 24-hour hotline to help foreign tourists.
Many Russian airlines had to cancel flights abroad, including Egypt, which is now the main obstacle to the rest of Russians in this country. It is not necessary to fear unfriendly actions from Egypt and closure of borders for tourists from Russia, but the situation with Western sanctions creates other problems.
Inaccessibility of ATMs in Egypt for Russians
Since international payment systems Visa and Mastercard are under EU and US sanctions, ATMs in many countries, including Egypt, no longer serve cards of Russian citizens. Impossibility to withdraw cash and pay by card creates serious inconvenience for Russian tourists.
One way out of this situation is to use cards of banks which are not subject to sanctions. The “Mir” national payment system, which does not depend on other payment systems and therefore is not subject to sanctions, can also help. In any country you can use the card “Mir” of different banks.
Suspension of voucher sales
Those wishing to go to Egypt in this difficult period should follow the news. Tour operators in Russia have suspended the sale of tickets until March 31, 2022 for the most popular destinations, including Egypt. The political situation in the world has led to a problem with airlines. Carriers fear that their planes will be seized by lessors when landing in another country. Those who bought tours for March will fly unless air carriers change their flight program and flights to Egypt are canceled.
The temporary freeze of tour operators’ work in this unstable situation can be called correct. Continued implementation of the tour would be backed by massive complaints from tourists who cannot depart from or return to Russia.
Coronavirus: rules of entry, restrictions
Everyone who has decided to vacation on the Red Sea coast, should inquire about the rules of entry into Egypt. Citizens of the Russian Federation arriving require an English-language certificate confirming two-component vaccination “Sputnik V” with a QR code. At least two weeks should pass from the time of re-vaccination.
If there is no certificate, it is allowed to present the result of a PCR test, which is not more than 72 hours old, before the flight. Another option is the conclusion of a rapid antigen test with an expiration date of no more than a day. Children under 12 years of age are not subject to these rules.
PCR certificate is required in the original, with a real stamp and QR-code. Travelers fill out the medical declaration form on the plane during the flight. Those who have been vaccinated with the Sputnik Light vaccine are required to be tested for COVID-19 before flying to Egypt, because the single-unit vaccine is not considered sufficient for entry into the ARE.
What you need to know about covid restrictions on arrival:
- free movement is allowed;
- Mandatory temperature measurement of all tourists at the airport;
- treatment of luggage surfaces with disinfectant;
- mandatory wearing of masks and gloves for tourists at the airport;
- provision of disposable pens at check-in to the hotel with subsequent disposal;
- keeping a sanitary distance of 2 meters;
- restaurant visits are allowed only if anti-epidemic norms are observed;
- at the buffet, food is placed under a glass fence, the restaurant employee waits for the tourist’s choice, then pours it into the container as much as necessary;
- provision of disposable spoons and forks.
Wearing a mask is not necessary in the hotel, but it will be required in large crowds. Outside the hotel wearing a mask is required, especially in vehicles, stores, restaurants.
What is the security situation in Egypt?
According to the assurances of the Egyptian authorities, there is no danger in the country for foreign tourists. Since most vacationers go to the resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh or Hurghada, whose hotels are located in an isolated area that is under heavy guard, restricted to visitors, you can not doubt the absence of banditry in these areas. And, according to feedback from Russians, there is no safer place in Egypt.
But there is a question about the situation at airports. After all, in 2015, it was the insufficient security control at AER airports, through which tourists from Russia arrived, that caused the tourist flow between Russia and Egypt to be banned. Now travelers arriving at AER airports have the impression that they are in a specially protected area: armed men in uniform and with dogs meet them. Tourists and their luggage are carefully inspected.
Thorough inspections of those arriving in the country give hope that traveling to Egypt has become safe.
What to consider when visiting Egypt
When traveling to a country of a different culture, you need to consider the mentality of the locals. A large part of the population in the ARE are Muslim, and if you don’t pay attention to that, there may be trouble.
It’s not recommended for young women and girls to fly to Egypt for a vacation alone. It is not safe for a tourist to walk alone through the city or the markets. According to Islamic concepts, if a young girl is unaccompanied by a man, she is easy, so she will grab his hands, trying to take her to his store, to get away from the constant attention of Arabs during the walk will be difficult.
Do not behave inappropriate from the point of view of the Egyptians: to abuse alcohol, wear too open clothing. You should respect local traditions in any country.
Safety precautions for tourists
For all tourists who like to spend their vacations in this delightful country of North Africa, there are safety rules, observing which the impression of rest will not be spoiled. The threat to the health and life of vacationers lurks in the beautiful Red Sea, rich in flora and fauna. Especially at risk lovers of scuba diving.
In Egypt, it is a dangerous pastime, because the trainers are mostly unskilled, and the equipment is worn, and it is better to use a large training center with Russian-speaking staff. Sea inhabitants can be harmful to health, and even become the cause of death.
Dangerous representatives of Red Sea animals:
- Sharks, which for the most part are not aggressive, but there have been cases of attacks on people in Sharm el-Sheikh;
- Sea urchins, on the needles of which you can get close to the shore, under the skin they crumble, causing pain and discomfort, to remove from under the skin is difficult;
- stingrays near the shore electrocute, stinging venom to cramps and swelling;
- corals and anemones can cause burns and painful scratches;
- moray eels – scary-looking sea animals of large size with sharp teeth, can bite out of fright;
- venomous winged fish, a piercing fin of which causes pain, fainting, and even death, is found more often at night, during the day lies on the bottom;
- jellyfish, causing redness of the skin, burns, burning;
- cone – poisonous beautiful cone-shaped mollusks, touching them causes anaphylactic shock, limb paralysis;
- poisonous stonefish (warthog), the spike of which can pierce clothing and shoes, causing painful shock, tissue necrosis, without medical attention can be fatal.
In addition to sea animals, in Egypt there is a huge Nile crocodile (up to 4 meters), a very poisonous snake sand epha, scorpions and mosquitoes – the carriers of malaria. Before you go to ARE, it would be right to take out insurance, which guarantees medical care. Medical services for foreigners in Egypt are not cheap, and the insurance is inexpensive.
Russian, who wants to vacation in Egypt in 2022, will have to follow the news in politics, taking into account the activities of tour operators and drastically changing exchange rates. And when the time of the long-awaited holiday at the Red Sea will come, it is necessary to remember about the rules of safety in the water and on land, so that nothing can mar the trip.
Is it worth it to buy a trip to Egypt in 2022: prices, conditions and order of entry
Not so long ago, Egypt was the most affordable option for outbound tourism – a vacation on the beach in +30 even in winter was possible for very reasonable money. Then there were 6 years without air service, its resumption, and now – a new crisis. Nevertheless, tours to Egypt are on sale for the spring and summer of 2022. We’ve gathered all the important things to know about it – how much the tour will cost, what the conditions will be and how to enter Egypt in general.
Where and why to go to Egypt
Egypt a decade ago was the most popular outbound tourism option for Russians. The combination of a hot climate, good beaches and extremely low prices (especially when the dollar is 30 rubles) made this resort a leader, far superior to rivals such as Turkey, Bulgaria or Cyprus.
For Egypt itself, tourism is also one of the main sectors of the economy – in 2014 (just before the closure of air links with Russia), tourists brought $7.4 billion into the country – that’s 13% of GDP and about 12% of jobs. In fact, several Red Sea resorts host tourists:
- Sharm el-Sheikh is a major resort city on the Sinai Peninsula (a legacy of the Arab-Israeli wars) with its own airport and hot climate. It is considered the most versatile resort in Egypt – it is a beach holiday, diving and snorkeling, and excursions;
- Hurghada is a city on the western coast of the Red Sea, the largest resort in Egypt. Hotels offer the widest range of recreation – family, active recreation, diving, windsurfing and much more. It has its own airport;
- Makadi Bay is another resort on the western shore of the Red Sea, focused mainly on family vacations.
Russians, along with the British, represented about 2/3 of the total tourist flow to Egypt, but that all changed in the fall of 2015. On October 31, an Airbus A320 of the Russian airline Kogalymavia, flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, crashed over the Sinai Peninsula. There were 217 passengers and 7 crew members aboard. Later it turned out that an explosive device had been detonated in the cabin – it got on board due to extremely unsatisfactory work of the airport security service.
Because of this, on November 6, 2015, flights with Egypt were suspended until the Egyptian authorities were able to adjust the security services at the airports.
Air service resumed in April 2018, but only scheduled flights and only from Moscow to Cairo. Russians had to travel 5-8 hours by bus from the Egyptian capital to the main resorts. Only in August 2021 were launched direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, and in November – and charter flights.
Charter flights are the basis of economy tour operators, who work in Egypt. The tour operator books a flight in full, buys the entire floor of the hotel or the entire hotel, orders a shuttle service from the airport, and then tries to sell as many seats on those dates as possible. Taking into account the local specifics, tours to Egypt 10 years ago were much cheaper than tours to Russian resorts, but now times are changing.
How much will Egypt cost in 2022
Before the closure of air service in 2015, prices for tours to Egypt were more than moderate. For example, a flight on a charter flight cost about $250 (round trip per person), a five-star hotel stay for two was $30 per night, plus about $5 per person for transfers and $1 for insurance. All together gave about $850 for a trip for two people for a week – with the dollar at 30 rubles it cost only 25 thousand rubles. Even with the dollar at 60 rubles the price was also quite reasonable.
But now the situation is changing – the dollar is now about 100 rubles, and the pricing of the tours became different.
As the director of travel agency in St. Petersburg Tatiana Petrova says tour prices always depend on demand – during vacations the prices are higher, and in December and February there were even hot deals. But even the “last minute” tour – is 160 thousand rubles for 9 nights for four people in a 5-star hotel in April such a tour will cost 250 thousand. Prices for early booking, as the expert notes, are much higher than in Turkey.
However, the market has adapted to the current realities in six months, so the prices for holidays are more or less back to normal. So, to go on a trip in April and July 2022 for a family of two will cost:
- Hurghada, 3 stars, all inclusive, beach and pool – 88,300 rubles in April, 125,000 rubles in July;
- Hurghada, 4 stars, all inclusive, 400 meters to the sea – 102 300 rubles in April, 122 500 rubles in July;
- Hurghada, 5 stars, all inclusive, 30 meters to the sea – 105 000 rubles in April, 124 000 rubles in July;
- Sharm el Sheikh, 3 stars, 650 meters to the sea, all inclusive – 105 000 rubles in April, 117 600 rubles in July;
- Sharm el Sheikh, 4 stars, 700 meters to the sea, all included – 137.700 rubles in April, 125.600 rubles in July;
- Sharm El Sheikh, 5 stars, 100 meters to the sea, all included – 143 700 rubles in April, 130 500 rubles in July.
As we see, in some cases the early booking will even help to save money – the earlier you pay for the tour, the cheaper it will be. And the fresher dates in April, the prices are even higher than in July – probably influenced, including the school vacations.
But in general, the range of prices is exactly the same – there are not many tours cheaper than 100 thousand rubles and more expensive than 200 thousand within the given parameters (two tourists a week) in the mass segment. Accordingly, we can rely on these figures as approximate.
How to get to Egypt: conditions and restrictions
When planning a trip outside Russia lately, you should consider at least three variables: visa regime, quarantine measures in connection with covid-19 and the availability of air service.
The easiest thing to deal with is the visa:
- Those flying into Sharm el-Sheikh don’t need a visa – but you can’t leave the city;
- Those coming to Cairo, Hurghada or Marsa Alam, the visa is issued on arrival at the airport and costs 25 dollars.
There will be no problems with entry on this part – it is enough to fill out an immigration card during the flight on board.
A slightly more complicated issue – quarantine restrictions. Egypt has not abolished them, but has made some allowances for those who have been vaccinated against covid-19.
Everyone who arrives in Egypt must have two documents:
- fill out and submit a health declaration at the migration control (for all those entering over the age of 6);
- provide one of the three documents (this applies to everyone over the age of 12):
- A certificate or certificate of a negative PCR test for coronavirus . The test must be recent (collection of material no more than 72 hours before arrival) and the certificate must be in English. The certificate must have a QR-code or barcode on it, by which you can check the authenticity of the document;
- covid-19 vaccination document – vaccination with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the Egyptian Ministry of Health, including Sputnik V, is allowed. It is important that the tourist receives both doses of vaccine at least 2 weeks before arrival. For Russians it is sufficient to show the printed English version of the certificate from Gosuslugi with a QR-code;
- Certificate of negative result of rapid test for covid-19 – made by the method of antigen testing. The test must be fresh, made no more than 24 hours before arrival. There must be a QR code on the certificate.
If a tourist doesn’t have any of these documents, he or she can take a PCR test right at the airport for $30 – only available in resort cities. If flying to Cairo, the test or vaccination certificate must be carried with you at the time of boarding the flight.
Important: Many people have misinterpreted the rules, and believe that everyone takes a test at the airport. This is not the case – the Egyptian side may send for express testing those whose certificates will be questioned (for example, if the QR-code is not readable).
As for the “closed skies,” nothing has changed for travel to Egypt yet – planes fly there without unnecessary restrictions (except by flying around the restricted area in southern Russia via Kazakhstan). There are no countries on the way to Egypt that have closed their airspace to Russian airlines, so there are no problems with travel so far.
But still we should take into consideration that the Federal Air Transport Agency has forbidden flights abroad for airlines who use aircraft owned by foreign lessors – these aircrafts may be arrested abroad. Therefore flights to Egypt will most likely be operated by foreign airlines as well as by a few Russian ones, but by SuperJet 100 or Tupolev-204.
Is it worth choosing Egypt now?
Egypt is “open” for Russian tourists for almost six months. During this time, says Tatyana Petrova, hotels have significantly “tightened” in terms of service – this is evidenced, in particular, by reviews. If in October 2021 they were mostly red (i.e., negative), now the level has risen nicely.
For the Russian tourist, Egypt combines both pluses and minuses, says the expert:
- Egyptian hotels are a budget alternative to distant countries and the UAE;
- Over the past six months, services have increased – including the appearance of heated pools, which is important in the off-season (late fall and early spring);
- good opportunities for diving and snorkeling – if you choose hotels with a reef;
- almost all destinations are all-inclusive options
- In comparison, even with Turkey, the level of hotels is low – a few years without tourists reduced investment. Even wifi is not everywhere, and if it is – not always of high quality;
- peculiarities of the mentality of the Egyptians (staff, etc.) will not appeal to everyone;
- In the budget and medium hotels, food leaves much to be desired – there are not even packaged juices, alcohol is only local, and even ice cream is served by the hour;
- sea – shallow water with a strong ebb, with corals and sea urchins (swim better in special shoes).
As you can see, Egypt in 2022 – is too compromise option, when a relatively low price is balanced by not the best service. Given the constant price increases (including due to the falling ruble) is no longer a high-budget vacation, so the claims to the Egyptian hotels are increasing.
Expert Tatyana Petrova also says that there are problems with air communication – in fact the Federal Air Transport Agency has imposed moratorium on international flights until the end of March, and many tourists in Egypt will have to wait for flights out of Egypt. Therefore she does not advise to buy tours to other countries if the flight will be operated by a Russian airline – the probability of flight cancellation is quite high.
The problem is that in 2022 Russians have nothing to choose from – the closing of air links will leave Turkey and Egypt, and Russian resorts will be overcrowded with tourists who do not want to rest abroad (the prices will probably go up again). Given that the full extent of the crisis is still impossible to grasp, it is still too early to make any plans for a summer vacation.