Russia has cautioned Egypt over the "mistreatment" of its citizens after several Russian families were expelled from a Red Sea resort hotel when their bankrupt tour operators failed to pay.
The unnamed hotel in the southern Red Sea resort of Hurghada reportedly ejected a number of Russian families with children which had booked rooms, with staff claiming that their Russian travel planners had not paid for the guests' stay.
Russians represent Egypt's major source of visitors, with an estimated 2.8 million arriving in the country in 2010 alone. Speaking to Ahram Online, Egypt's Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zaazou, said he had received no official complaint from the Russian Embassy. He stressed that it was a one-off incident connected to a commercial disagreement and had nothing to do with Egypt's tourism sector. Zaazou's comments echoed those of Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Ministry, who was quoted in the Sunday edition of the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper cautioning Egypt against punishing its citizens due to the behaviour of a Russian company. "It should not concern tourists, this [problem] is related to the tourism agency," Bogdanov said. Zaazou, who only heard about the incident by reading Al-Ahram, said the ministry had begun an investigation and would take steps to ensure such incidents are not repeated in future. "Were a similar case to happen in future, I would insist the hotel saves rooms for the tourists. The hotel should then send a message to the tourist agency saying it would not deal with them again," he told Ahram Online. The Russian Embassy in Cairo failed to respond to requests for further information.