TRAVEL GAZETTE – Egyptian minister of antiquities Khaled al-Enany said on Friday that preserving the country’s cultural and archaeological heritage will surely promote and reactivate the tourism industry in the North African country.
Al-Anany’s comments came during an exclusive interview with Xinhua during the opening of four tombs, in Upper Egypt’s city of Luxor, that belong to the Royal Butlers of Queen Hatshepsut from the 18th Dynasty and King Ramses II from the 19th Dynasty.
The opening came after the completion of their restoration works which lasted for around four years.
The opening of such sites might help revive the ailing tourism industry in Egypt which was dealt a heavy blow following the Russian airplane crash in North Sinai last October, after which several countries, including Britain and Russia, suspended their flights to Egypt.
Since the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has descended into political, economic and social chaos, causing recession to its tourism industry, one of the main sources of the country’s national income and foreign currency reserves.
The minister said that the opening of the four tombs came within the framework of the antiquities ministry’s efforts to protect Egypt’s heritage and to open new archaeological sites to boost tourism.
The tombs’ restoration was done with international aid, the minister said.
“Today’s event is a message that Egypt cares for its archaeologies and is keen to accomplish all preservation projects,” the minister said. “We also want to show that the government here works jointly with foreign institutes to ensure the safety of its antiquities and heritage.”
The minister also said that his ministry works hard to maintain a strong archaeological infrastructure and works arm-to-arm with the ministry of tourism to open new tombs and tourist sites for visitors.
“We want foreign tourists to have a good image about Egypt, that is why we take maximum care of our tourist sites,” al-Anany said.
On The Grand Egyptian Museum, which is under construction, the minister said the museum is supposed to be open in mid 2018, affirming that the government is aiding the ministry with huge sums of money to ensure it can welcome tourists on time.
Speaking about the possibility of finding more chambers behind the tomb of Egypt’s ancient King Tutankhamun in Luxor, the minister pointed out that science can only tell the truth about this debate.
In 2015, British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves announced that Queen Nefertiti’s crypt may be buried in hidden doorways behind King Tutankhamun’s 3,300-year-old tomb.
Reeves has been working with Egyptian and foreign experts on the discovery of the new chambers for months and has done a number of scan radars that may support his research.
“Scientific studies can tell the fact, we will continue with scientific steps. In the end science will have the final word,” the minister concluded.