CAIRO: Egypt is preparing to reopen archaeological sites for visitors following a four-month shutdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Khaled El-Anani, confirmed the reopening of some of Egypt’s most significant archaeological sites, starting in July.
The decision covers eight sites across four governorates and comes as foreign tourism gradually returns to the country.
The eight sites reopening in July are the Pyramids of Giza and their surrounding areas, the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, the Citadel of Salah El-Din, the temples in Karnak and Luxor, Hurghada Museum, Abu Simbel temples and the Temple of Philae in Aswan.
Other archaeological sites will gradually reopen until September.
Despite resuming operations in these locations, precautionary measures will be taken to ensure visitor and staff safety.
Under the measures, tourist trips cannot exceed 25 people. Tourism companies will have to provide protective face masks to tourists, while the total number allowed in large museums, like the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, will be limited to 200.
Tours in large museums will last one hour. Other museums will be limited to only 100 visitors an hour.
During a press conference on June 14, El-Anani said that foreign tourists can begin visiting three governorates — South Sinai, the Red Sea and Marsa Matrouh — starting from July.
He said hotels would require a license from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Ministry of Health and Population before reopening.
The tourism ministry said on Friday that the number of hotels which will be allowed to operate at a reduced capacity has increased to 232 in 13 governorates, after their adoption of safety measures outlined by the ministry.
The decision was made after they received a hygiene safety certificate approved by the government in accordance with the standards of the World Health Organization.
Hotels can only operate at 50 percent of their usual capacity. Strict measures will be taken against hotels which fail to follow government guidelines.
El-Anani said that the recovery in the country’s tourism will happen slowly and gradually, and will depend on tourist activity abroad.
Tourism is a major part of the Egyptian economy, and its return will play a large role in a wider post-COVID economic recovery. During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, tourism revenues in the country reached $12.57 billion.
Other archaeological sites set to open their doors include the Baron Empain Palace in Heliopolis, the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat, the Museum of Royal Carriages in Boulaq, Kafr El-Sheikh Museum and Sharm El-Sheikh Museum, which is partially reopening.
In order to encourage foreign visitors, the government is offering a series of incentives, including the cancellation of tourist visas for the three governorates accepting visitors until Oct. 31, as well as a discount of 20 percent on museum tickets.