Egypt's El Gouna int'l film festival aims to revive tourism amid COVID-19 pandemic

Source: Xinhua Published: 2020/10/9 11:47:19

Bushra Rozza, co-founder and chief operations and foreign relations officer of Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival (GFF), speaks during an interview with Xinhua in Cairo, Egypt, on Sept. 19, 2020.Photo:Xinhua

This year's(GFF) aims to revive Egypt's tourism sector which has suffered badly from the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival's founder Naguib Sawiris said on Thursday.

"The festival will send out a reassuring message of the necessity to resume life routine and accept the coexistence measures," Sawiris, a billionaire businessman, told a press conference.

He named the 4th GFF, due to be held on Oct. 23-31, as "the challenging round" that saw difficulties in bringing in international filmmakers whose countries are imposing severe restrictions on travels.

This year's GFF, to be held at the luxurious Red Sea resort town of El Gouna, will be hosted under the slogan "The Culture of Dreams," focusing on the diverse cultures of the region.

The international event will screen 65 films, including 11 world premieres.

"Like similar international film festivals that took place recently, we are eager to prove that Egypt can do the same, and we will take all necessary precautionary measures to protect its guests and tourists," Sawiris said.

A press conference on the 4th El Gouna Film Festival is held in Cairo, Egypt, on Oct. 8, 2020.Photo:Xinhua

Samih Sawiris, the El Gouna resort owner, said that some of their team members were present at the Venice Film Festival and learned the safety measures for the festival.

"The health safety of the festival participants and El Gouna residents is our priority," he said, highlighting that the activities will be held in open-air spaces.

He said that the Egyptian Ministry of Health will be present in El Gouna to guide the health measures to be taken to ensure the safety of the participants.

"Postponing the festival would have been a hard hit for the tourism sector in Egypt," he added.

Actress Arwa Gouda poses for photos on the red carpet of the El Gouna Film Festival in El Gouna, Hurghada, Egypt, on Sept. 27, 2019.Photo:Xinhua

Between the events, 90 minutes will be dedicated to sterilizing the halls and spaces, GFF Director Intishal al-Tamimi explained.

He said the red-carpet area is increased to 30 meters and the whole festival will keep "less than 50 percent of its total capacity."

Al-Tamimi is optimistic about this year's festival, saying "we worked hard this year to present a unique edition despite the challenging circumstances."

He noted that those valued festival invitees have shown keen interest in taking part in the festival, adding that virtual platforms will be opened for more than 500 artists across the world.

Egyptian actress Tara Emad poses for photos on the red carpet of the El Gouna Film Festival in El Gouna, Hurghada, Egypt on Sept. 19, 2019.Photo:Xinhua

Egypt's tourism revenues hit 13 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, the highest in the country's history, according to figures released by the Central Bank of Egypt. But the sector has suffered greatly since the start of this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to a sharp decline in international tourist arrivals.

Egypt resumed air traffic at the beginning of July and opened archaeological sites, museums, and hotels after nearly four months of closure, in a bid to revive tourism, the major source of foreign currency.


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