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Russian Tourists Insist on Staying in Egypt Despite Warning

  • Albina Kovalyova

Tourists ride camels near the pyramids, in Giza, Egypt, January 31, 2011. The pyramids are closed to tourists.

Tourists ride camels near the pyramids, in Giza, Egypt, January 31, 2011. The pyramids are closed to tourists.

The Russian government has issued a travel warning concerning Egypt, and Russian firms have started to evacuate their staff. But many Russian tourists have flatly refused to change their plans. Egypt has been hit with a wave of violence following mass protests against the current President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt is one of the most popular destinations for Russians on vacation. Although the Russian government advised Russians that the situation in the popular destination is tense, many prefer to continue with their holiday plans.

On Sunday, Russian tour operators halted their sales to the troubled country. But press secretary of prominent tour provider Natalie Tours, Elena Sobleva, said that despite this, some tourists did not put off their plans.

She said that now all sales to the destination have ceased. But there were those who bought their tickets before who are insisting on going. But there are not many people like this.

The popular tourist resorts like Sharm el-Sheikh remain relatively calm with most of the violence concentrated in the large cities.

Press secretary of the Federal Tourism Agency, Oleg Moseev, says that although people were no longer encouraged to go to Egypt by authorities, there was no pressure for them to return.

He said it is important that there is no panic. People are returning from their holidays, according to their plans. So far there have been a very small number of people who wanted to cut their holidays short.

In contrast to the Russian authorities, the U.S. government urged its citizens to leave Egypt as soon as possible.

On Tuesday the Russian Union for the Tourism Industry said that 50 percent of those who bought Egyptian tours, decided not to travel. Meanwhile prominent Russian energy companies Lukoil and Novatek began evecuating their employees out of the country. Lukoil spokesperson Grigori Volchek said that the company decided to evacuate all Russian citizens and their families from Cairo to Dubai.

He said that if the situation continued for only a number of days, there would be no serious consequences for Lukoi's business. But if the difficulties are not resolved, extra measures would have to be put in place.

Moseev said it was too soon to tell whether the disturbances in Egypt would have a serious effect on the Russian tourism industry. But tour provider Elena Sobleva said, that for Natalie Tours, this would not be a significant problem as the company provided many other desirable locations. She said that many of their clients re-directed their holidays to Thailand and United Arab Emirates.