Egypt’s popular Red Sea resorts of Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh have received 4,208 tourists in the first week of the resumption of international flights, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany said on Tuesday.
The tourist hubs have received visitors from different countries including Ukraine, Russia, Belgium, Germany, Belarus, and Switzerland, a cabinet statement quoted the minister as saying during a Tuesday meeting.
Egypt resumed regular international flights on 1 July after more than three months of closure over the coronavirus pandemic.
The government hopes to revive the country's vital tourism industry, a major source of foreign currency that has been hard hit by the pandemic shutdown.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hurghada International Airport received 180 tourists from Belarus, Ahram Arabic news website reported.
Airport staff handed out souvenirs to the tourists, and ensured that arrivals undergo safety procedures before leaving the airport, including having their temperatures measured by thermal cameras.
Hurghada was set to receive two other flights from Ukraine and Belarus on Tuesday.
Foreign tourists are now allowed to visit three coastal tourist hotspots: South Sinai, where the popular seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh is located, the Red Sea governorate, home to the city of Hurghada, and Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean. More destinations are planned to open for visitors in later stages of the reopening, officials said.
In an attempt to lure foreign tourists, the country has exempted tourists visiting these areas from visa fees until the end of October.
Egypt has allowed over 400 hotels nationwide to reopen at a reduced occupancy rate of 50 percent after they met hygiene and safety protocols, according to the tourism ministry.
During Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, officials discussed plans to upgrade several squares in Khedivial Cairo along the lines of the recent renovation of downtown’s iconic Tahrir Square. These include Talaat Harb, Opera, Attaba and other major squares in central Cairo.