Egypt is considering using the ruble in settlements in tourism in an effort to avoid using U.S. dollars, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said, Russian state news agency Tass reported Thursday. The suggestion comes amid part of a broader Egyptian effort to entice Russian tourists to visit, while Russia's economy reels from sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western countries for its involvement in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
"We are ready to use the ruble and the Egyptian pound in mutual settlements in this sphere [tourism] to avoid problems that now emerge with the dollar exchange rate," Sisi told Tass during a visit to Moscow. He added, "We are making huge efforts on expanding the tourism infrastructure that the Russian tourists could use and we try to diversify services offered for tourists."
Russia's currency has dropped in recent days, alongside the price of crude oil. It dropped to an all-year low of 71.2 rubles to the U.S. dollar Monday, and in the past two months the ruble has lost nearly 20 percent of its value against the dollar. As their currency falls, Russians have been making fewer trips abroad, Deutsche Welle reported Monday, even as others stress that Russians are still taking vacations, only to destinations that they consider more affordable, such as Egypt.
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Russians are one of the few nationalities that have not been deterred by Egypt's recent political turmoil, the Economist has reported. The country, located in northern Africa and bound by the Mediterranean and Red seas, offers a variety of landscapes and destinations, from Red Sea resorts to deserts and historic sites. It is relatively inexpensive and comparatively warm, and flights from Moscow to Cairo take roughly four-and-a-half hours.
Nearly 2 million Russian tourists visited Egypt in the first nine months of 2014, Russia's Federal Tourism Agency says, and the number of tourists from Russia to Turkey and Egypt has risen 15 percent so far in 2015 over the previous year.
During Sisi's visit to Moscow, he and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed greater economic cooperation between the two countries, including Russia's involvement in the building of a nuclear power plant in Egypt. The two presidents also spoke about the political situation in the Middle East, Al Jazeera reported.