New airport to open south of Marsa Alam within days

The Ministry of Civil Aviation will open the new Berenice International Airport south of the Red Sea resort town of Marsa Alam in the coming days, with the project having come at a cost of upwards of LE430 million.

Sources in the Red Sea Governorate revealed that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has completed the final reviews and preparations for the official opening of the airport, which ministry officials hope will bolster tourism in the area. 

The airport was planned to accommodate 600 passengers per hour and includes one completed runway.

A number of specialized websites have begun to promote the tourism sector in the area and publicize the new airport, the sources said.

Workers in the tourism sector in the Red Sea confirmed that the new airport should generate a significant economic return, as the second-closest airport to resorts and hotels in the south of the Governorate is 150 kilometers away.

The distance between the old airport and popular vacation spots had an impact on the number of tourists in the area, especially given the fact that the area is usually popular with tourists and renowned for its natural beauty and eco-tourism.

Tourism expert Maged al-Qady affirmed that Berenice Airport has been constructed in line with international standards and was built out of necessity, adding that the airport should boost investment opportunities in the area.

A number of projects in the area were previously canceled due to the lack of a nearby airport, he said, arguing that the project provides a strategic “national dimension” to development efforts south of Marsa Alam.

The airport is also part of the state’s development strategy, part of Egypt’s Vision 2030, Qady said.

Traveling between Cairo, Halayib, Shalateen, Aburmad and Abu Ghosun takes between one and a half to two hours. Travel to Italy, Germany and Russia from Egypt, on the other hand, takes takes about four hours. Egypt is less than an hour from Saudi cities and about two hours from the Arab Gulf region.

On December 19, the first UK flight to Sharm el-Sheikh since the 2015 ban landed at Sharm El-Sheikh International airport, following a four-year hiatus after a bomb exploded on a Russian plane flying over Egypt’s Sinai, killing all 224 people on board.

In another sign that Egypt’s tourism sector is on its way to recovery, Sharm el-Sheikh airport was also recently ranked as the fastest growing airport in Africa in 2019, while Hurghada Airport ranked third in passenger numbers, according to Routes Online, an organization specialized in tracking airport traffic.

Earlier this month, Egypt was ranked number one on The Independent’s travel recommendations list for 2020, with the newspaper urging people from around the world to pay a visit to Cairo’s much-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum, which will house 100,000 artifacts from Egypt’s rich history, some of which have never been seen before.

Also in December, Egypt topped Forbes’ “Where to Go Next” list, where the magazine recommends 27 countries for adventure-loving readers to visit in 2020, and in November 2019, AFAR, an award-winning travel magazine, ranked Egypt fourth among the world’s 10 Fastest Growing Tourist Destinations.

Egypt was also picked second among the world’s 10 best diving destinations of 2019 through a global voting process run by the world’s leading scuba diving magazine, “DIVE Travel.” Egypt’s Red Sea is home to over 400 species of coral, in addition to hundreds of astonishing fish species, and boasts world-renowned diving spots.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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