Hotels have ramped up hygiene, archaeological sites have been sanitized and beaches cleaned up – Egypt is gearing up to welcome back tourists kept away by the coronavirus pandemic.
‘We are laying the groundwork for tourists from around the world to find this destination … in exemplary sanitary conditions’, Egypt’s antiquities and tourism minister, Khaled al-Anani, told AFP.
Egypt has since March halted air traffic and shuttered archaeological sites, museums and hotels to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The country, like elsewhere, has in recent weeks started loosening confinement measures as it looks to slowly open up to tourists in the summer season.
‘We are waiting for our curve (of contaminations) to stabilize’, the minister said.
Conditions for international tourism will be announced in the ‘coming days’, he said, adding that the government was ‘not rushing’ it.
‘All we want is to make sure that tourists face no problems when we open up’.
Egypt’s health ministry has so far registered around 35,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 1,200 fatalities.
The minister said Red Sea resort including in South Sinai Will be the first to open along with Mediterranean beaches west of the coastal city of Alexandria.
Top tourist attractions such as the Giza pyramids and Aswan’s Karnak temple will also reopen to tourists but with controls.
Luxor’s star attraction, the tomb of Tutankhamun, for example, will grant every to a maximum of 10 people at a time, Anani said.
Other tourist magnets in the densely populated capital, Cairo, will open at a later stage, he said.
Egypt had high hopes for tourism in 2020 before the health crisis hit.
The government expected 15 million tourists to visit this year, up from 13 million in 2019.
Now, hotels are to be allowed to operate with up to 50 percent capacity, according to the minister.
The facilities are required to provide masks and sanitizers to all guests, while common areas must be regularly disinfected and the use of elevators limited to 50 percent capacity, he added.