Domestic tourism to resume in Egypt; coastal cities ‘healthier’, says minister

Domestic tourism to resume in Egypt; coastal cities ‘healthier’, says minister
An aerial view on Hurghada town located on the Red Sea coast, Egypt. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 08 May 2020

Domestic tourism to resume in Egypt; coastal cities ‘healthier’, says minister

Domestic tourism to resume in Egypt; coastal cities ‘healthier’, says minister
  • MP Thoraya El-Sheikh says move should be postponed

CAIRO: The Egyptian government has announced that domestic tourism, which had been suspended for over two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can now resume.

The government approved a number of measures in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Ministry of Health, and in accordance with the directions of the World Health Organization. Hotels will be allowed to operate at 25 percent of their capacity until June 1, when they will be allowed to operate at 50-percent capacity.

Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany told journalists that coastal cities such as Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh are “healthier than big crowded cities,” adding that hotels which could “prove they have committed to the rules and regulations in the period from May 15 to 31 will be part of a new system that will soon be adopted by the government.”

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly underlined the importance of the tourism and hospitality sector in providing job opportunities and as a vital source of income for the state. He said the state was keen to alleviate the negative impact of the coronavirus on the tourism sector and its employees.

The prime minister stressed that all the precautionary measures that were discussed during the cabinet meeting must be implemented “with full accuracy.”

But the decision to restart domestic tourism was not without its critics. While some parliamentarians backed the decision, seeing it as a chance to support the tourism sector and its employees, detractors said that tourism of all kinds needs to be postponed until the COVID-19 crisis is over, and urged the government not to risk the health of the Egyptian people. 

MP Ahmed Edris, a member of the Tourism and Aviation Committee, supported the decision, pointing out that the tourism sector is the state’s main source of income and employs more than 13 million Egyptians directly or indirectly. 

Edris called on owners of hotels and tourism businesses to draft a plan for safe tourism operations and to implement preventive health measures in hotels and restaurants to maintain the safety of all employees.

MP Thoraya El-Sheikh, however, said that domestic tourism should be pushed back by at least a month, in light of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases. Egypt has registered 7,201 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 452 deaths. 

“The Egyptian people love family gatherings and this increases the danger of infection,” El-Sheikh said. 

Hisham El-Shaer, a member of the Chamber of Tourism in the Egyptian Tourism Federation, said the government’s decision will bring the tourism sector back to life, and that adhering to implementing coronavirus precautionary measures will send a message of safety to foreign tourists, with a number of countries set to lift travel restrictions.


Israel extradites woman wanted for sex crimes to Australia

Israel extradites woman wanted for sex crimes to Australia
Updated 27 min 33 sec ago

Israel extradites woman wanted for sex crimes to Australia

Israel extradites woman wanted for sex crimes to Australia
  • Malka Leifer had been fighting extradition from Israel since 2014
  • She faces 74 charges of child sex abuse that she allegedly committed while teaching in Melbourne

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities on Monday extradited a woman wanted on 74 charges of child sex abuse in Australia, following a six-year legal battle that had strained relations between the two governments.
Malka Leifer, a former teacher accused of sexually abusing several former students at a Jewish school in Melbourne, had been fighting extradition from Israel since 2014. Leifer maintains her innocence and the protracted court case and repeated delays over her extradition drew criticism from Australian officials as well as the country’s Jewish leaders.
Israeli media photographed Leifer boarding a plane at Ben Gurion Airport early Monday, her ankles and wrists shackled. Her lawyer, Nick Kaufman, confirmed the extradition.
The Hebrew-language news site Ynet reported that she boarded a flight to Frankfurt, where she would transfer to another flight bound for Australia.
Her departure was timed so that she left the country before Israel’s shutdown of the airport at midnight due to the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
In December, the Supreme Court rejected a final appeal against her extradition, and Israel’s justice minister signed the order to send her to Australia.
Leifer faces 74 charges of child sex abuse that she allegedly committed while teaching in Melbourne.
As accusations against her began surfacing in 2008, Israeli-born Leifer left the school and returned to Israel, where she has lived since.
Critics, including Leifer’s alleged victims, had accused Israeli authorities of dragging out the case for far too long, while Leifer claimed she was mentally unfit to stand trial.
Last year, an Israeli psychiatric panel determined Leifer was lying about her mental condition, setting in motion the extradition.
Avi Nissenkorn, Israel’s former justice minister who had signed the extradition order, wrote on Twitter: “I promised that I would not hinder the extradition order, and that’s what I have done. Malka Leifer’s victims will finally earn an act of justice.”
Manny Waks, head of Voice against Child Sex Abuse, an organization representing Leifer’s victims, said in a statement that “this is an incredible day for justice!”
“We can now truly look forward to Leifer facing justice in Australia on the 74 charges she is facing,” he said.