After closing in March, hotels in Egypt’s top tourist spots have slowly begun to reopen in encouraging signs for the country’s fragile hospitality industry.
The majority of the hotels that have reopened are in the popular destinations of Sharm el Sheik and Hurghada. It has been reported that around 78 hotels in the Red Sea area are now operating, including high-end options Four Seasons Resort Sharm el Sheikh and Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay.
For now, hotels are only allowed 25 per cent occupancy rates, with a tourism minister telling Reuters over the weekend that many had already met that capacity. As well as limits on the number of guests, the Egyptian Government has put in other strict rules for reopening and hotels must apply for a license before they can welcome guests. For this to be approved they need a resident doctor, sufficient disinfection equipment and to regularly check guests’ temperatures.
In addition, an area of each hotel must be designated for quarantining positive or suspected Covid-19 cases, while workers must take rapid tests for the virus when they enter resorts. There are currently another 173 hotels under review who are hoping to be approved to open this week.
For their part, Four Seasons and Kempinski are going above and beyond the requirements, with the latter providing all guests with face masks in their rooms. At both of the Four Seasons hotels in Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh, guests are encouraged to check-in online via the group’s app and digital menus are provided in the restaurants.
So far, all of the reopened hotels are largely catering to domestic tourists as airports have remained closed to international flights since March, though this could soon change, with officials reportedly mulling over opening up airspace again. The Government has also stated its intention to increase hotel capacity to 50 per cent at some point this month.
Egypt, while not one of the world’s worst-affected countries, has recorded more than 26,000 cases and 1,005 deaths from the virus, and may not have passed its peak yet.
Tourism in Egypt, which accounts for up to 15 per cent of the country’s GDP, has struggled during the last few years, in the wake of a terrorist attack on a Russia-bound plane departing from Sharm el Sheikh airport in October 2015 and the ensuing travel restrictions that were imposed. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, things were improving with flight routes opening up again and it is likely that the Government will be keen to restart international tourism soon to prevent the destination becoming a ghost town once again.
The hopeful hotel news comes as easyJet Holidays have announced that they will launch operations in Egypt’s key tourist destinations this winter, indicating that British holidaymakers will be able to return in the not so distant future.
Paul Bixby, strategy and sourcing director at easyJet Holidays, said: “We have a fantastic offering of winter 2020 deals in both Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada.
“We can’t wait to start taking people on holiday again and helping them to create unforgettable memories.”
EasyJet, who grounded their entire fleet during the pandemic, will start flying again domestically on June 15 with a few flights to France, before expanding to more destinations in July.