Egypt Attempts to Lure Tourists Back With the Promise of More Pyramids and Tombs
by Mail Online | 3 August 2012
Egypt is set to reveal more of its buried treasures in a bid to lure visitors back to the country.
The country's tourism market has seen a marked decline in visitor numbers since the January 2011 revolution which saw the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.
Tourism fell by more than 33 per cent to 9.8 million in 2011, compared to 14.7 million in 2010.
According to the Washington Post, officials are keen to encourage visitors back to the tumultuous region with the promise of ancient artefacts dating back thousands of years.
The tomb of Queen Meresankh III, the granddaughter of Khufu, of Great Pyramid fame, is set to be opened to tourists for the first time in a quarter of a decade later this year, with the last resting places of five high priests also slated to see the light of day. Officials are also understood to be reopening the underground Serapeum temple at Sakkara, to the south of Cairo.
'We want to give people a reason to come back, to give them something new,' Ali Asfar, director general of archaeology on the Giza plateau, is quoted as saying.
The Grand Egyptian Museum is already under construction in Cairo, which aims to house historical finds in state-of-the-art surroundings. According to Egypt's tourist board, the museum hopes to open in 2014.
Nineteen months after the revolution, the first government under the country's new Islamist president is being sworn in this week. Newly elected President Mohammed Morsi has taken over from the military council which ruled Egypt during a transition period. The main domestic problems confronting the government are the economy - caused in part by steep drops in investments and tourism - and domestic security. But despite the increasing efforts to maintain stability, the FCO advises all but essential travel to parts of the country on its website.
In July, there were 'violent protests' around the Syrian Embassy in Cairo and the FCO warns that there are 'frequent demonstrations' in Tahrir Square, which became a focal point during the revolution.
The website advises: 'There is the possibility that demonstrations could take place elsewhere in Cairo and other locations in Egypt. You should avoid all political demonstrations and large gatherings, especially those in Tahrir Square.'
There have also been reports of kidnapping, robberies and roadblocks, and sexual assaults on women.
The website adds: 'You should exercise caution when travelling outside resorts in the Sinai and take advice from local security authorities and your tour operator.'
Around one million British nationals visit Egypt every year.