Egypt’s Red Sea resort cities of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh welcomed 297 tourists aboard two flights from Ukraine on Wednesday, after over three months of air traffic suspension over COVID-19 concerns in Egypt.
Upon arrival at the Hurghada Airport, the tourists were met with flowers, souvenirs, and folklore music and dancing.
Erini, a 34-year-old Ukrainian tourist with two children, told Xinhua that she was eagerly waiting for international flights’ resumption to visit Hurghada.
“I feel comfortable about the precautionary measures since I arrived in the airport, and all the workers in the tourism sector are very keen on our safety,” she added.
Hurghada Airport, which welcomed 167 tourists, has strictly applied coronavirus prevention measures for the passengers, including social distancing, Abu Taleb, Chairman of Tour Guides Syndicate of Red Sea, told Xinhua correspondent at the scene.
“The tourists have passed through thermal cameras to check their temperatures, and their luggage was disinfected,” Abu Taleb said, adding that the airport has installed six thermal cameras aimed at maintaining the safety of passengers.
Abu Taleb highlighted that “the return of tourists to Egypt indicated confidence in the precautionary measures that have encouraged the international tourism companies for cooperation.”
According to a statement issued by Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, “several other flights carrying tourists from Ukraine, Switzerland, and Belarus will arrive in the coming few days.”
The statement stressed that all the preventive measures put up at the airports, hotels, bazaars, and diving centers are provided in Arabic and English.
Over 400 hotels have received the operation safety certificates, the statement said, adding that each hotel is accommodated with one building for quarantine under the supervision of the Ministry of Health.
The hotels’ facilities are required to provide masks, sanitizers, and temperature tests to all guests. Some pools are closed and the elevators are limited to 50 percent capacity, the statement added.
Egypt has announced the gradual reopening and the resumption of tourism in the Red Sea, South Sinai, and Marsa Matrouh provinces.
The resumption of tourism has met by overwhelming joy of the workers in the tourism sector with its revenues hitting 13 billion United States dollars in 2019.
Besides airports, the North African country has also reopened the Egyptian museum and the famed Giza Pyramids in Cairo, Temple of Luxor, and Museum of Hurghada for the first time since the coronavirus closure in March.
The tourism industry, a key pillar of Egypt’s economic revenues and hard currency, had started to show signs of recovery after years of political turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled late president Hosni Mubarak. All recovery plans came to a halt with the suspension of international flights.
Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala al-Saeed said in April that the tourism sector’s losses in 2020 could amount to 5 billion United States dollars.
Egypt’s Health Ministry has reported a total of 68,311 COVID-19 cases, including 2,953 fatalities.
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