Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek said on Sunday that his country is keen on increasing tourism to Egypt to pre-pandemic levels, hailing the Egyptian red sea resorts during the past two winters as the best destinations for Czech tourists despite the pandemic.
His remarks came in a press conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, during his visit to Cairo.
Before the pandemic, around 300,000 Czech tourists had been visiting Egypt annually, Kulhánek said, hailing the preventive measures Egypt has taken to secure visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Shoukry said Egypt is keen to provide the utmost degree of security and safety for tourists, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
“We want to reassure tourists that we do not spare any effort and that the state’s institutions are taking exceptional measures to secure the tourist destinations against the pandemic,” Shoukry said during the presser.
The top Egyptian diplomat said the state has been keen to vaccinate tourism workers at Red Sea resorts and also the dwellers of these areas against the coronavirus.
He also affirmed that tourist institutions adhere to safety measures, including maintaining social distancing and disinfection.
Shoukry expressed Egypt’s readiness to receive technical teams from the Czech Republic to assess the preventive measures taken in this regard and recommend further measures.
“So far, a large number of people have visited the Red Sea resorts and, thank God, have returned home with full health thanks to the measures … which we continue to evaluate and develop,” Shoukry added.
The Egyptian FM also mentioned the state’s plan to vaccinate 80 million citizens of the 100 million population against the virus, noting that it can have a positive effect on the flow of tourism to Egypt.
Shoukry explained that such procedures stem from the importance of the tourism sector to Egypt, as it represents 10 percent of the GDP and secures job opportunities for four million people.
He noted that around 20 million citizens benefit from the tourism sector.
Shoukry said he discussed with his Czech counterpart a number of regional issues, including the situation in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, as well as the Palestinian cause.
Kulhánek said their talks also addressed the Ethiopian dispute with Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The Czech minister said he listened carefully to the Egyptian FM’s explanation of the issue, adding that he shares with the Egyptians the same concerns around the issue.
The top Czech diplomat said that his country strongly encourages negotiations to reach solutions on the issue.
He urged all concerned parties to work without hesitation or delay to resolve this pressing issue as “lives of millions” rely on swift solutions to the issue.
Kulhánek said he is looking forward to an international mediation in the GERD dispute.
He added that his country always prefers diplomacy when it comes to the issues of the Middle East.
He said the pillars of diplomacy should be established in the middle east and international mediation should be resorted to.
Kulhánek thanked Egypt for its pivotal role in de-escalating issues in the Middle East region.
Bilateral ties, investment
Kulhánek hailed Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s unwavering support to the Czech government and republic, affirming that this support will strengthen the pillars of bilateral cooperation.
The Czech minister said he accompanied a delegation from 10 Czech companies for investment in Egypt. He noted that his country’s firms can provide Egypt with products with reasonable prices in the fields of engineering, heavy industries, water management and medical and military equipment.
Kulhánek said his country has sent three commercial delegations so far during this year and launched today the Egyptian-Czech Business Forum along with Shoukry.
He said he believes the forum will be a chance to enhance commercial cooperation and launch new partnerships with Egypt in business and trade.
Czech seeks to fund the business of the Czech companies working in Egypt with around $300 million.
Shoukry said such announcement will have a powerful impact to allow Czech companies to benefit from the promising opportunities and profitable returns that the Egyptian economy is capable of achieving.
Kulhánek said he met with El-Sisi earlier on Sunday and handed him an invitation from Czech President Miloš Zeman to visit Prague.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš also seeks to meet with El-Sisi this year during the Visegrád group (V4) meeting in Hungary, Kulhánek said.