Egypt has vaccinated all tourism staff in its main beach destinations as it awaits the return of UK visitors.
All staff in the Red Sea and South Sinai areas, which include Sharm el Sheikh and Marsa Alam plus Hurghada, have received two vaccine doses.
The Egyptian government said: “Staff working in establishments including hotels, resorts, cafes, restaurants, bazaars and tourism transportation in the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates have received the Covid-19 vaccine.”
Egypt is on the UK’s red list, but since 23 June, has admitted double vaccinated travellers from selected countries, with a test on arrival if they are from a country affected by a Covid variant.
Red Sea Holidays executive director Peter Kearns said Egypt was placed on the red list on 4 June following a spike in infections. “We assume the main reason was because it is on the continent of Africa and they were worried about the Delta variant,” he said, but added rates had fallen “by 70%” since.
He said the Red Sea and Sinai resorts’ remoteness meant they were safe. “Sharm is in the middle of nowhere. The resorts are purpose-built and the only people living there rely on tourism. Any worker travelling home to Cairo is tested and made to self-isolate if necessary on their return.”
Kearns said nationals from countries such as Hungary and Poland were already back in the resorts but that occupancies of only 30-40% and the large footprints of the hotels meant social distancing was easy.
He said he was hopeful Egypt could be moved to the amber list. “According to the World Health Organisation, fatalities are really low; 180 a week in a population of over 100 million.
“Our client base is mostly double jabbed, so I hope the government can see sense. There is massive demand.”
Kearns said most bookings were still “for the very back end of winter or next summer” but added: “We are getting a lot of interest. As soon as things start to change, I think we’ll see a lot of interest very quickly.”