CAIRO (Reuters) - 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, Reuters witnesses said, adding that they spotted only a handful of people at the normally packed site.
"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.
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.
(Reporting by Ahmed Fahmy and Sherif Fahmy; Writing by Seham Eloraby and Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Mike Collett-White)