BY TIM HEDGLEY, GROUP TRAVEL EDITOR
Egypt Prepares for opening after Covid
Strict implementation of COVID-19 safety and hygiene measures, close collaborations with tourism stakeholders set course for safe travels to Germany’s all-time favourite holiday destination
Dr Khaled El-Enany, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities reassured holidaymakers that safe travels are possible at a time that continues to be defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. His remarks came during a presentation of Egypt’s comprehensive action plan for safe tourism on day one of ITB Berlin NOW.
The digital meet-up for the travel industry is running from March 9 to 12 with the participation of travel professionals from across the globe.
At the core of the Ministry’s action plan is the drive to protect the health of all residents and visitors, therefore the strict implementation of COVID-19 safety and hygiene measures remains a key focus. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is cooperating with the Ministry of Health and Population and the Egyptian Hotels Association, to develop and implement the measures that comply with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has issued the Regulations for the Resumption of Tourism to Egypt that are applicable to all tourist facilities across the country. Hygiene Safety Certificates are now a pre-requisite for hospitality establishments, archaeological sites, and museums to resume their operations and receive visitors.
COVID-19 testing centres have been established at Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada airports to conduct PCR tests on arrival for tourists who do not possess a negative PCR test certificate not older than 72 hours at a cost of US$30 or their equivalent. It also provides PCR and antigen tests for tourists on-demand upon departure to their countries to ensure their safe return home.
Hotels quarantine guests who test positive for COVID-19 in separate rooms, covering the costs of lodging, food and soft drinks until their departure. Serious cases receive medication and treatment at hospitals free of charge from the Ministry of Health and Population until full recovery.
On June 18, 2020, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) granted Egypt its Safe Travel Stamp, which recognizes destinations around the world that have implemented health and hygiene protocols in line with WTTC’s Safe Travels Protocols.
Furthermore, Egypt has implemented temporary regulations with the aim of reviving its tourism and aviation sector and incentivizing holidaymakers to consider the country for their next vacation. To achieve optimum value addition for everyone, Egypt is closely collaborating with industry partners, such as tour operators and airlines, in this regard.
As part of these measures, travellers arriving in the governorates of South Sinai, Red Sea, Luxor and Aswan are exempted from paying visa fees until April 30, 2021. In addition, the country has reduced jet fuel prices by 15 US cents per gallon from January 21 until end-2021.
Meanwhile, airports in touristic governorates can benefit from a 50 percent discount on landing and housing fees and a 20 percent discount on ground handling fees until April 30, 2021.
Over the past few months, the country has witnessed a significant increase in tourist rates. Around 10,000 tourists a day arrive at airports located in touristic cities, which have consistently reported one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany used to rank first among source markets.
Dr. El-Enany said: “COVID-free destinations now top the wish list for the world’s tourists. In this context, Egypt’s stepped-up efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus have been successful, as the recent continued growth in inbound tourism numbers testifies. This positive trend is clear proof that our tightened precautionary measures are respected and observed, and that visitors have confidence in our preparedness to tackle the greatest health crisis of our time. We look forward to welcoming a steady stream of tourists from all countries.