Egypt has announced that it plans to restart international tourism by opening its borders to holidaymakers going to the country’s seaside resorts.
The North African country has been locked down with international travel restricted since March due to the worldwide outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
This first step towards reopening Egypt to foreign visitors is scheduled for July 1. From this date onwards, travelers will be allowed to enter certain parts of the country, including the popular resort cities of Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab, Hurghada, and Marsa Matrouh.
This news comes as the Egyptian government attempts to reignite the nation’s tourism industry, which accounts for between 5% and 15% of the country’s GDP.
The country’s Civil Aviation Minister Mohamed Manar announced that airports will reopen starting from July 1 and that international flights would slowly resume.
With travel information constantly changing due to the pandemic, it is advisable to regularly check visa requirements for your nationality if you are planning to visit Egypt.
Which Parts of Egypt Can You Travel to?
So far, it has been announced that only certain resort areas will be open to international travelers.
Areas that reopen on July 1 include Southern Sinai, Red Sea province, and the resort of Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean coast.
The resorts that are set to reopen include:
- Sharm el-Sheikh
- Marsa Alam
- Marsa Matrouh
It is currently unknown if there will be any nationalities who will continue to be banned from entering Egypt or what the conditions of entry to the country will be.
International travelers will be required to have a health insurance policy and present proof of this to Egyptian border control officials when entering the country, according to Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khalid Anany.
International Flights to Egypt to Restart
As Egypt reopens its borders to foreign visitors, commercial passenger flights are beginning to operate to the country for the first time since March.
EgyptAir resumed various services on July 1 between Egypt and the following airports:
- Abu Dhabi
- Addis Ababa
- Dar es Salaam
- New York
Other international airlines are expected to follow suit.
It is worth bearing in mind that just because an airline flies from one of these locations to Egypt does not necessarily mean that nationals of that country are permitted to visit. Travelers, particularly those from nations that have been heavily affected by coronavirus, are advised to consult global visa information before booking a trip.
What Is Reopening In Egypt?
From June 27, Egypt’s COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions have been eased, with a number of businesses and public spaces allowed to reopen. In most cases, there is a limit on the amount of people who are permitted to enter such premises at any time.
The following have now reopened under the specified conditions:
- Restaurants and cafes at 25% capacity
- Hotels at 50% capacity
- Sports centers at 25% capacity
- Cultural facilities and cinemas at 25% capacity
- Shops and malls open until 21.00
- Public transport from 9.00 to 00.00 (midnight)
In July, beaches belonging to resorts will reopen to visitors. According to State Information Minister Osama Heikal, the government is considering reopening public beaches as well, but when this will happen is unknown.
It is thought that major archaeological sites in Egypt, such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings may reopen later as the country continues to de-escalate the measures taken to control the spread of COVID-19 and attract more tourists to give the industry a much-needed boost.
How Has Egypt Been Affected by COVID-19?
Egypt has not been hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic for a country of its population size (around 98.42 million). As of the time of writing, Egypt has reported close to 70,000 cases of COVID-19. In comparison, Germany, a country with a population of 83.02 million, has had over 196,000.
However, the number of new cases per day in Egypt has continued to rise through May and June, whereas the rate is falling in countries like Germany.
In response to the pandemic, the Egyptian government canceled all commercial passenger flights in March.
Lockdowns were imposed across the country. Various businesses, including hotels, restaurants, and cafes were closed. A curfew was also introduced at night to keep people indoors.
These anti-coronavirus precautions are now being relaxed bit by bit. Hotels may now reopen to guests from Egypt as long as they have a clinic set up and a resident doctor on-site.