By Mariam Sami
Resumption of Nile cruises has been postponed until October, according to the tourism authority
Egypt will reopen all its museums and archaeological sites starting September 1 with new precautionary measures for visitors, including operating tour buses at 50 percent capacity.
The announcement, published on the website of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, comes amid the government's attempts to revive a money-earning sector hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new measures include disinfecting all common surfaces inside the museums, limiting tour groups to 25 people each and making wearing masks mandatory for all tour guides, according to the statement.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo will allow entry to only 200 visitors per hour and no more than 10-15 people will be allowed into any pyramid or ancient tomb depending on the site's space.
Resumption of Nile river cruises, however, will be postponed until October, said the statement without elaborating.
The announcement came a day before a visit by Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), during which he toured the Red Sea city of Hurghada and held several meetings with Tourism Minister Khaled el Anany.
Pololikashvili said UNWTO was ready to support Egypt in any way and praised the country's efforts in the tourism sector, saying "the country is safe and everyone should visit its lovely beaches and ancient civilization", according to the ministry's website.
Traffic in all Egypt's airports resumed on July 1 and the tourism ministry said that 656 hotels around the country have received a certificate issued jointly by the health and tourism ministries allowing them to operate.
The tourism sector in Egypt is considered the third greatest source of income after remittances and non-oil exports and employs about ten percent of the total employment, official reports say.
According to government estimates, the nation's income has been losing around $1 billion from tourism, which had hit a record earning of about $13bn in 2019.
Officials and tourism sector employees say they hope the 2021 opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) will bolster tourism with its unique design housing over 100,000 artifacts, about 3,500 of which belong to the famous King Tutankhamen.