Egypt’s El Gouna hotels to reopen on Friday, maintain precautionary measures

Ahram Online , Monday 11 May 2020

(Photo courtesy of Orascom Development official website)

Orascom Development Egypt announced it will re-open its hotels and resorts in the Red Sea resort town of El Gouna for domestic tourism starting Friday, the real estate developer said on Sunday.

Egypt’s tourist resorts have shut down in March as part of the unprecedented measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the government said it was allowing hotels to reopen for domestic tourism on the condition they operate at 25 percent capacity from mid-May until the end of the month and put in place a set of health measures for protection against the coronavirus. Starting 1 June, hotels will be allowed to operate with a maximum capacity of 50 percent.

The move aims to boost domestic tourism amid worldwide lockdowns that have significantly hurt the tourism industry, one of Egypt's main sources of hard currency.

Hotels in El Gouna, the flagship development of the Swiss-based developer Orascom Development Holding, will be permitted to accommodate guests in accordance with government regulations and the World Health Organisation's (WHO) guidelines, the company said.

Facilities will abide by medical measures to ensure the quality of personal protective tools and sterilisation materials, it added.

"We have used the time of the temporary suspension of hotel operation to monitor WHO guidelines, government mandates and public health advancements to tailor and implement sanitisation and staff training programmes," said Abdel-Hamid Abu Youssef, interim CEO of Orascom Development Egypt.

He expected domestic travel to pick up, saying that local occupancies in El Gouna “are increasing more than usual” due to the suspension of international travel.

Egypt has suspended international flights in March, allowing internal and freight flights. Exceptional international passenger flights have since been operated to bring back Egyptians stranded abroad or to allow tourists to leave.

The government has set a raft of regulations for hotels to be allowed to resume operations as officials say the country could gradually restore normalcy after Eid Al-Fitr, the Islamic feast following Ramadan, set for 23 May.

Hotels will not be allowed to hold parties, weddings, and overnight activities. They must have a clinic with a resident doctor and must ensure the availability of personal protective kits and disinfection materials.

A small facility or a whole floor at every tourist resort will be allocated for isolating confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases.

Hotel restaurants can only serve pre-set menus as buffet services will be banned, and dining tables should be set at a safe distance to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

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