CAIRO: Visitors to Egypt will no longer have to produce a negative coronavirus test to enter the country after fears that tourists would cancel their holidays because of the requirement.
Instead, the country’s civil aviation authority told airlines operating out of vacation hotspots Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh, Marsa Alam and Taba that visitors could get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival at these international airports for $30.
A PCR test detects whether a person is currently infected with coronavirus. The aviation authority’s decision is effective from Sept. 1.
Egypt had decided days ago to deny entry to visitors who did not have a negative PCR test result obtained 72 hours before arrival.
This decision, according to some in the tourism sector, led to hotel cancellations by holidaymakers from Belarus and Ukraine. They attributed the cancellation to the high prices of PCR tests in these countries, especially since the cost of the test was sometimes greater than the cost of the trip.
Investors suggested adding the price of the PCR test to medical insurance policies due to its high price point, indicating that a continuation of the current situation would lead to tourists searching for alternative markets.
Mohammed Farouk, a member of an e-tourism committee, said that the PCR test requirement had already caused the cancellation of anticipated hotel reservations for Ukrainian and Belarusian tourists due to the cost of a test that ranged from $150 to $200.
He explained that the market in the two countries was cheap, and that the value of a tourist's full stay for a week was $200. It was difficult to do a PCR test that had the same value of a week-long trip, he said.
The government’s decision to allow on-arrival testing at Egyptian airports at such a low price is being seen as a suitable solution to save the tourism sector, which has already suffered for five months due to the country’s closure.