Egypt welcomes tourists back to pyramids as flights resume

16 flights took off from Cairo International Airport on Wednesday.
Wednesday 01/07/2020
Tourists rid a cart in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza after reopening for tourist visits, in Cairo, Egypt, July 1. (REUTERS)
Tourists rid a cart in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza after reopening for tourist visits, in Cairo, Egypt, July 1. (REUTERS)

CAIRO--Egypt restarted international flights and reopened major tourist attractions including the Great Pyramids of Giza on Wednesday after over three months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The country closed its airports to scheduled international flights and shut famous historical sites in mid-March as the government looked to curb the spread of the virus.

That brought the tourist industry, which the government says accounts for 5% of economic output but which analysts say may account for as much as 15%, if jobs and investment indirectly related to the industry are included, to a virtual halt.

Visitors were few at Giza on the first day.

“It’s a pretty place, this is where we see the symbol of Egypt and this is why we come here,” said tourist Ravalonandrasana Maurice.

Dozens of excited tourists snapped selfies as they wandered around Egypt’s most iconic ancient site.

Mask-clad tour guides pose together for a selfie on a cell phone at the colonnade of the ancient Temple of Luxor in Egypt’s southern city of Luxor on July 1. (AFP)
Mask-clad tour guides pose together for a selfie on a cell phone at the colonnade of the ancient Temple of Luxor in Egypt’s southern city of Luxor on July 1. (AFP)

The pyramids were the country’s first tourist attraction to reopen, along with the Egyptian Museum next to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, ground zero of the 2011 revolution.

Authorities are hoping holidaymakers will brave flying and head to Egypt after international flights resumed on Tuesday under loosening travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, 16 flights took off from Cairo International Airport on Wednesday, the aviation minister said. Two arrival terminals were empty in the morning but a screen showed four scheduled flights expected to arrive from Toulouse, Kuwait, Tunis and Amman.

Tourism and antiquities minister Khaled al-Anany said two chartered flights arrived Wednesday morning to airports in South Sinai and the Red Sea carrying tourists from Ukraine.

These provinces along the Red Sea Coast as well as Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean were allowed to reopen as they had the lowest case numbers so far.

The health ministry has registered 68,311 cases of the coronavirus and 2,953 deaths.