Each country’s tourism sectors play a big part in national economies. The coronavirus outbreak has undoubtedly brought an immense shock to the global economy, particularly the tourism sector.
Governments worldwide have imposed restrictions on traveling, business operations, and face-to-face interactions to contain the virus. Consequently, the impact of the virus has caused millions of lost jobs in the tourism sector.
UNWTO estimates that the international tourist arrivals for this year could decline between 20-30%. As we enter a new phase with the virus spread prevention, the outlook remains uncertain for many countries. The lifting of travel bans and restrictions are happening slowly and gradually for some countries that have flattened the curve.
In Egypt, authorities are gradually reopening the tourism sector. The country has seen a few cases of coronavirus when compared with countries with a similar population size. Even with the reboot of a few tourism supply chains, these businesses would be operating with restrictions based on new health protocols.
Initial Resumption Of Domestic Tourism
In March 2020, the Egyptian government suspended all civil flights into and out of Egypt. After implementing this regulation, a “near-complete shutdown” on any tourism-related ventures followed. Despite the growth in COVID-19 cases, the government and private sectors have been finding ways to accommodate tourists. It is because tourism plays a significant role in the economy of Egypt.
In the middle of May, local tourism has resumed in some regions. Authorities allowed businesses, such as hotels, to operate under strict conditions. It includes a valid certification of running, and they should only accommodate below 25% of the occupancy rate. By June, this number increased to 50%.
Hossam Al Shaer, chairman of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association, said that the local tourism resumption is a success with the implemented regulations.
In estimation, as of July, Egypt will be opening 232 establishments in approved regions. They will also accommodate both foreign and local tourists. Hotels, resorts, and famous archaeological sites will slowly reopen with strict health monitoring.
Getting The Safety Travel Stamp
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) recently granted Egypt a “safe travel stamp.” This grant was according to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. WTTC issues this stamp to locations and establishments that reached its health and hygiene standards.
In particular, the province of the Red Sea, South Sinai, and Matrouh will reopen to international tourists. These three provinces have a warm and dry atmosphere and coastal open-air surroundings. They also report the fewest cases of COVID-19 cases in Egypt. Soon, popular tourist destinations, such as Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, will reopen.
The resumption of inbound tourism will begin by July 1. Authorities will be strictly inspecting each establishment to ensure that they’re following the COVID-19 health protocols.
Along with the reopening of the country to tourists, they are implementing ways to boost tourists’ interest. For instance, they’re waiving tourist visa requirements for resorts and offering discounts for inbound and outbound flights. They will also discount airlines’ aviation fuel by 10 cents per gallon and 50% landing and boarding fee discount.
Furthermore, there will also be a 20% discount for tickets on historical sites and museums. They’re also launching a new advertising campaign to boost the tourism sector.
Along with these, the government wants to ensure that the reopening of the tourism sector will further spread the virus. Hence, tourists coming from other countries will need to provide a negative PCR test result before traveling.
There is no doubt that traveling has a massive impact on the economy and the people as well. According to psychiatrist Jean Kim, M.D., “Travel disrupts your routine and introduces novelty to your brain, which improves cognition and helps reactivate reward circuits.”
She further adds, “You have to think about how to get through new neighborhoods, new transportation patterns, new customs, and rules.”
While the lockdown and quarantine measures bring challenges to traveling, we must follow safety protocols. Along with the gradual lifting of travel restrictions, our focus should be on stopping the spread of the virus.
If you decide to visit Egypt during this pandemic, make sure that you will be following all safety measures. While you may be helping the economy by traveling to the country, going against these measures means risking yourself and others.