The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is scrapping tourist visa fees for the governorates of South Sinai, Marsa Matrouh and the Red Sea until October 31, in a gesture meant at encouraging tourists back to the country.
The news was delivered by Khaled El Enani, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, who stated that the Ministry of Interior issued a new decision to remove the fees for all citizens visiting Egypt in only the three governorates mentioned above last week.
El Enani conducted a visit to the governorates, to some of the hotels and their airports, deeming them more suitable for touristic activities than condensed and crowded cities, especially during the pandemic where transmission rates are high.
“In terms of the decisions we’ve taken in the last couple of days: we decided on exempting foreign tourists from tourist visas until October 31,” he announced before adding “thus, no citizen from an Arab or foreign country would pay for a tourist visa, in the touristic governorates, until October 31.”
Indeed, cases of COVID-19 have been reported highest in Egypt’s largest cities, namely Alexandria and Cairo.
“We re-started touristic activities at the beginning of May, then we decided to resume at 50 percent capacity from June 1 and we are hoping that, on July 1, we resume tourism activities in three governorates,” he stated in televised remarks on local channel, Sada El Balad.
El Enani also explained that various touristic venues, namely hotels, were not given their working permits as they did not take the required health measures which would protect employees, tourists and civilians alike.
Clearly reeling from the economic burdens of its halted tourism sector, a crucial basis for Egypt’s overall economy, the Ministry – which has recently launched a new campaign for tourism – had previously lowered its ticket fees for key attractions in Qena, Luxor and Aswan.
Last week, Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Mohamed Manar announced that international flight operations would resume as of July 1, bringing hope that summertime, a popular time for travelling worldwide, could still bring international travelers and holiday-makers to the country as sanctions gradually lift in other countries as well.
The new measures reflect the government’s relaxing attitude towards gradual reopening and a ‘co-existence with the virus’ despite COVID-19 cases surpassing 50,000 with a death toll of 2,106, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
On Saturday, Egypt was given the green light to resume tourism by The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), also offering the country the Safe Travel Stamp.
The shift in status reflects the government’s aim to reignite touristic activities which had once more begun to flourish in the last years after various political events which stunted tourism.
According to a report by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourism to Egypt had flourished by 21 percent in 2019 with 13.6 million visitors, bringing optimistic prospects which suddenly halted with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which manifested itself in Luxor, as well as other major cities.
Prior to this, the country – which boasts an array of touristic activities and attraction sights at competitive prices – had been named a top travelling destination by BBC Travel and Forbes.