Tourists are once again flocking to Egypt's world-famous pyramids
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by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO - Egypt's world-famous pyramids site, including the three Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, regained over 50 percent of the number of visitors that used to frequent the site before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, said the director of the site in an interview with Xinhua on the occasion of the World Tourism Day.
"The recovery started to exceed 50 percent since the end of July and the beginning of August. In this September, there's a noticeable increase due to the nicer weather and the improvement of the precautionary measures," said Ashraf Mohieddin, Egyptologist and director general of the pyramids site.
He attributed the increasing number of visitors to the efforts made by the government and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in terms of implementing precautionary measures at all tourist sites nationwide, "which paved the way to receive the largest possible number of tourists and gave foreign countries a great deal of reassurance to allow their citizens to visit Egypt."
He added that the availability of Covid-19 vaccines and the vaccination campaigns launched in Egypt over the past few months made people feel safer to visit tourist sites in Egypt.
"The Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the Sphinx, one of the world's largest sculptures, are among the main destinations of all visitors at the site, followed by nearby Saqqara, which includes the Step Pyramid, the oldest pyramid in history," the official told Xinhua.
Mohieddin expects a larger number of tourists to visit the site in winter, which he considers "the main season" for tourists to visit the pyramids.
"Also the anticipated prevailing vaccines in the coming period and the vaccination campaigns launched in many countries will encourage larger numbers to come," he said.
The tourism sector in Egypt used to contribute to about 12 percent of the country's GDP right before the pandemic and it is one of the main sources of foreign currency for the most populous Arab country.
In August, Russia resumed flights to Egyptian Red Sea resorts, including Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada, after almost six years of suspension over the 2015 deadly blast of a Russian plane shortly after it took off from Sharm el-Sheikh.
The return of Russian tourists is also a key factor in the recent general improvement of tourism in Egypt.
"We have a very noticeable improvement in the number of tourists after we gained the confidence of all countries regarding the precautionary measures that are implemented in all our archaeological sites," the director of Giza pyramids site emphasized.
He added that ongoing developments of the pyramids site, including a new entrance from the desert side that will be opened soon, eco-friendly electric buses that will take tourists to different areas of the site, in addition to a large parking lot, mobile restrooms and Wi-Fi services, will all attract more visitors.
Mohieddin noted that these developments will be in service within a few months.
"There will be electronic tickets and there could also be online booking. We will make massive technological developments at the pyramids site," the Egyptian official told Xinhua.
He noted that those Egyptians who randomly offer tourists camel and horse rides will go through training courses organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and will have their work regulated to improve their communication with tourists and avoid violations.