Egyptian tourism bosses are hopeful flights from the UK and Russia will resume to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh in the near future as talks between the countries continue.
Speaking at ITB, tourism minister Hisham Zaazou said: “It is not if the flights will resume, but when and I believe that will be sooner rather than later.”
Russia suspended flights in November following the suspected bombing of a Russian charter jet.
Reports of high-level discussions between Egyptian and Russian government officials over the resumption of flights to Cairo have stated that this could happen as early as this month or next, with tourist resorts following in the autumn.
Zaazou could not confirm this, but said ongoing contact with the Russian and British governments was “positive”.
However, he admitted the loss of air services from both nations following last year’s Russian airline crash meant the country lost four million travellers overnight.
“We finished 2015 with 9.3 million visitors and that compared with 9.9 million in 2014,” he said.
“But for January and February this year the monthly totals are drastically down – by more than 50%, and Sharm el Sheikh is down by 70 to 80%. We have incurred great losses.”
But he stressed that Egypt’s tourism industry was resilient, adding: “We are standing strong and still hopeful for the future.
“We want to change this crisis into an opportunity. We are passionate about getting back business even better than before.
“Yes, these are hard times and yes, they are very challenging, but let us focus on tomorrow.”
The minister said he had received favourable responses from a British delegation that was invited to see progress Egypt had made with new tightened safety measures and its efforts to attain a gold standard of excellence for airport security.
Meanwhile, the country is planning new promotional campaigns and plans to target key markets, such as the UK and Germany, aggressively to regain the trust of holidaymakers and restore confidence in the country.