Egypt to reopen select tourist destinations to international flights

Egypt hopes to draw tourists to popular attractions that have been spared the ravages of the coronavirus.

Elad Benari ,

EgyptAir airplane
EgyptAir airplane
iStock

Egypt will reopen select tourist destinations to international charter flights starting July 1, the Cabinet said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

The move would allow travellers from around the world to return to parts of the country less hard-hit by the coronavirus.

The government hopes to draw tourists to popular yet remote attractions that have been spared the ravages of the virus. Those include the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula, home to the major resort and beach destination of Sharm el Sheikh, the Red Sea resort areas of Hurghada and Marsa Alam, as well as Marsa Matrouh, on the Mediterranean coast.

The decision comes even as the pandemic surges in the densely populated capital of Cairo and other major cities.

The health ministry has recorded over 39,000 cases of COVID-19 in Egypt, including 1,377 deaths — the highest confirmed death toll in the Arab world, according to AP.

Even though some destinations will reopen, the Cairo airport will remain closed to international commercial flights until further notice. Public parks and beaches will also stay closed until the end of June, said Cabinet spokesman Nader Saad.

Egypt will also shorten its curfew hours slightly, enforcing it from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., starting Sunday and until the end of the month. Hotels that implement social distancing rules and other precautionary measures began to reopen to domestic tourists last month.

The curfew was first announced in late March in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Egypt’s economy depends heavily on tourism, which accounts for some 12% of the gross domestic product. The government fears a prolonged lockdown could be devastating economically.



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