Authorities at Marsa Alam International Airport have begun installing a new security scanning system at a cost of LE60 million, under the supervision of a delegation from an English company specialized in explosive detection devices.
The new system, which includes a Computer Tomography X-ray (CTX), an explosive detection device, will be in full operation before the year is up. Egyptian engineers affiliated with the airport also completed a training course on operating the new security system, which was held at manufacturers of the explosives detection devices in the UK.
Hany Okab, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Masa Alam Airport operating company EMAC, stressed that airport management was following a plan to raise efficiency, which includes sending employees for training abroad to keep pace with international airport security standards.
Equipment to improve passenger security at the Marsa Alam airport, which witnesses heavy foreign tourist traffic from Russia and Europe, comes amid ongoing efforts to boost tourism in Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, with foreign visitors having fallen sharply in light of Russian and British flight bans after the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt’s Sinai in 2015.
Egypt’s once ailing tourism industry, after years of political unrest and security concerns, appears to be on its way to recovery, however.
Over the last 12 months, the country’s tourism sector “witnessed remarkable growth,” according to Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME at the Arabian Travel Market. Arrivals were up to 17.8 million in 2019, compared with 11.3 million in 2018, an increase of 57.5 percent.
Egypt’s Red Sea resorts have played no small part in the tourism industry’s comeback, with revenue per available room, or RevPAR, rebounding 315% between 2016 and 2019 in Sharm el-Sheikh.
Hurghada followed closely behind with a 311% increase, according to an Arabian Travel Market press release
In December 2019, the first UK flight to Sharm el-Sheikh since the 2015 ban landed at Sharm El-Sheikh International airport, and low-cost airline EasyJet also announced that it would resume flights between the UK and Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh in June 2020.
Days after the ban on UK flights to Sharm al-Sheikh was lifted in October of last year, British Ambassador to Egypt Geoffrey Adams claimed that nearly half a million British citizens would visit Egypt before the end of 2020, a major boost for Egyptian tourism.
“(Lifting the flight ban to Sharm el-Sheikh) should lift UK visitor numbers significantly in 2020 and beyond,” Curtis said.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) designated the 2015 incident as a terrorist attack and the country also suspended flights to Egypt, but in 2018, Russia’s largest airliner Aeroflot resumed flights to Cairo.
In late January 2019, a Russian security delegation charged with conducting an inspection tour of Egypt’s Hurghada International Airport praised beefed-up security measures taken in Terminal 2, which also included the installation of an explosive detection device.
The delegation included 8 Russian security, inspection and aviation experts, and their visit to Hurghada is part of the process for the resumption of regular charter flights from Russia to Egypt’s resorts along the Red Sea.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm