The Karnak Temple Complex in Upper Egypt's monument-rich city of Luxor is buzzing with tourists, as the North African country has witnessed a revival in tourism after a long recession amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This bustle and hustle around the temple and other archaeological sites in Luxor was more palpable especially when and after Egypt reopened the city's ancient Avenue of Sphinxes on Friday after years of renovation work.
Visitors from different countries filed through the 2,400-year-old ancient walkway with 1,057 ram-headed and man-headed sphinxes lining both sides of it.
Egypt aspires to use the reopening of the historical avenue to promote Luxor as the largest open museum in the world and highlight its distinct diverse tourist and archaeological potentials.
"The place is rich in culture and history ... It is very exciting to closely see the ancient Egyptian civilization," Ray Rasmany, a U.S. young man, told Xinhua as he walked through the Karnak Temple.
Rasmany, who visited Egypt for the first time, said the country is safe and the people are friendly, adding anti-COVID-19 measures are well applied in the country.
As one of the key sources of income for Egypt, tourism accounts for about 12 percent of the country's GDP. It brought Egypt a record 13 billion U.S. dollars in revenues in 2019 with the arrival of more than 13 million tourists.
The peak came after a few years of decline in tourism caused by a Russian plane crash over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015 that left 224 dead, and a later EgyptAir plane crash in May 2016 that killed all 66 people on board.
Later, tourism in Egypt began to decline again because of the COVID-19 pandemic and relevant lockdowns worldwide.
"A boom has been seen in tourism here after Russia resumed in August direct flights to Egyptian tourist cities after a six-year ban following the explosion of a Russian airliner," Alaa al-Sahaby, owner of a hotel in Luxor, told Xinhua.
The middle-aged man noted that the precautionary measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing vaccination campaigns and the government's decision to resume tourism activities helped revive the ailing sector.
"My hotel is unexpectedly fully booked ... This is almost the case with most of the other hotels across Egypt, not only in Luxor," al-Sahaby told Xinhua.
He expressed hope for Chinese tourists to come back soon to Luxor, saying the Chinese tourists used to come in large numbers and spend well in the city.
"Chinese tourists prefer cultural tourism. That is why they prefer to visit Luxor. A real boom will happen if Chinese tourists will visit again," the hotel owner noted.
Egypt's official statistics showed China became the fourth largest source of tourists to Egypt in 2017, and according to the Chinese Embassy in Egypt, more than half a million Chinese tourists visited Egypt in 2018.
For 2021, Egypt targets revenues of 6 billion dollars to 9 billion dollars in tourism and hopes to receive more than 6 million tourists.
Egypt received about 3.5 million tourists during the first half of 2021, while the total revenues were about 4 billion dollars, according to the tourism ministry's data.
Published : November 29, 2021
By : Xinhua