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Egypt prepares for partially reopening hotels for local tourism

The Egyptian government started inspecting hotels in resort cities on Thursday to check their implementation of anti-COVID-19 measures and readiness to partially reopen for local tourists, according to local authorities.

Government committees, formed by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Ministry of Health, Egyptian Hotel Association (EHA) as well as representatives from the provinces of the South Sinai, Red Sea, Luxor and Aswan, did the inspection, said Abdel-Fattah al-Aasy, assistant minister of tourism and antiquities for monitoring tourism and hotel facilities.

This came amid the government’s “coexistence” plan to resume economic activities while fighting the novel coronavirus.

“Only those hotels that meet the anti-COVID-19 precautionary measures will be allowed to receive local guests with a limit of a 25-percent occupancy,” al-Aasy explained.

The official added that those hotels have to meet the conditions and implement the measures approved by the cabinet in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization.

A man waits for tourists to rent his camel in front of the Pyramid of Khufu, the largest of the Great Pyramids of Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, January 18, 2020. /VCG

He also noted that the committees have just started their inspection of hotels, expecting the approved hotels to start receiving guests during the holiday of Eid al-Fitr (fast-breaking feast) that follows the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Egypt is currently free from foreign tourists since the country suspended flights on March 19 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Increasing hotel occupancy over 25 percent in the near future depends on the situation of the pandemic in Egypt,” al-Aasy said.

EHA chief Maged Fawzi said in a statement on Thursday that 172 hotels in Egypt had applied for inspection in preparation for their partial reopening.

Egypt’s suspension of international passenger flights in March was accompanied by closure of hotels, which led to a shutdown of the tourism sector that accounts for for up to 15 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product (GDP).

As of Thursday, Egypt has confirmed a total of 10,829 COVID-19 cases, including 571 deaths and 2,626 recoveries.

(Cover: Tourists walk by the standing step pyramid of Saqqara after its renovation, south of Cairo, Egypt, March 5, 2020. /VCG)

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