CAIRO: The Egyptian government has extended the duration of a number of policies and incentives designed to boost the country’s struggling tourism sector, which has been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The measures include the waiving of visa fees until April 30 next year for tourists visiting the governorates of South Sinai, the Red Sea, Luxor and Aswan.
Businesses that operate within the tourism industry, including hotels, will not have to pay any fees or electricity, water and gas bills until Dec. 31 this year. In addition, all debts owed by companies in the sector, including amounts accrued before the pandemic began, will be rescheduled, with no repayments due until Jan. 1.
A flight incentive program, which includes discounted airport fees for airlines, was extended until Dec. 31.
The government said that their decision to extend the measures beyond the previously announced end date of Oct. 31 is designed to support the winter tourism season, which runs from Nov. 1 until April 30.
The global tourism sector has been particularly badly affected by the effects of the pandemic. It is vital to the economies of many nations, including Egypt, but has effectively been closed down due to lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.
Bassem Halqa, who represents workers in Egypt’s tourism industry, said that the decision to waive visa fees for some of the country’s most popular destinations is a very important step in efforts to encourage tourists to return, and will have a positive impact on sector.
However, he called for the initiative to be extended to cover additional destinations, such as Cairo, Alexandria and Giza. He also urged the government to allow public beaches and hotel gyms to reopen.