VENTURES AFRICA – Egypt’s tourism industry is starting to rebound after a difficult 2011 that saw revenues plummet 30 per cent. The country had 14.5 million tourists in 2010 but that plummeted to 10.6 million the next year due to the effects of the revolution. But now data suggests that the industry is heading for recovery. One million tourists visited the country in April of this year, according to Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, as compared to 800,000 tourists in April 2011, marking an almost 31 per cent increase. The report also said tourists stayed a total of 12.1 million nights in April 2012, compared to 6.7 million nights in April 2011, with the majority of the tourists hailing from Western European countries, followed by tourists from Eastern Europe and Middle Eastern countries. Below are five of the top attractions the country has to offer.
The Giza Pyramids
The automatic entry at the top of any list of Egyptian tourist attractions. Several generations of Egyptian royalty constructed their great burial shrines on the plains outside of Cairo, which is also home to the famous Sphinx. In addition to the huge stone pyramids, the area houses hundreds of “mastaba” structures that served as the final resting places for the relations and important court servants of the ancient Pharaohs.
The Cairo Museum
An essential stop for any visitor to Cairo, the museum is the home of the famous treasures of Tutankhamen, the royal mummies discovered in the 1870s and other well known artefacts of Egyptian history.
The Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings – up the Nile River – is the original home of many of the treasures that can be seen in the Cairo Museum. The burial location for most of the pharaohs of the “New Kingdom”, the Valley of the Kings is one of the most heavily visited attractions in Egypt. Luckier tourists can enter the tomb of Tutankhamen or walk along the beautiful temple belonging to Queen Hatshepsut, among many other sites.
The Temple Complex at Luxor
Heading back towards the river brings a visitor to yet another of the remarkably popular Egyptian attractions, and that is the Temple complex at Luxor. Luxor is the historic capital of both the Middle and New Kingdom pharaohs and can still be seen. The site is divided by the Nile and consists of the East Bank sites of Luxor Temple and the Temple of Karnak. On the West Bank, visitors can take in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens as well.
The Abu Simbel Temples
Both a historic site and tiny village, Abu Simbel was saved from destruction after the Aswan Dam began flooding Lake Nasser in the 1960s. It is home to beautiful and glorious temples which were relocated to higher ground and include the Great Temple of Ramesses II, which is one of the most well recognized ancient Egyptian attractions.