Desperately seeking tourists, Egypt opens airport museum

Friday 11/12/2015
Airport museum houses 38 pieces that tell story of different eras

CAIRO - Reeling from the effects of the bombing of a Russian passenger jet, Egyptian tourism au­thorities have set up a mini-museum of ancient, Roman and Islamic artefacts at Cairo In­ternational Airport, hoping to tempt transit passengers to return for a visit.
“The museum aims to offer trav­ellers, who are here for a few hours or minutes, access into Egypt’s di­verse and interesting civilisation,” said Reham Salah, the head of the museums section at the Egyp­tian Antiquities Ministry, which opened the facility on December 7th. “The artefacts exhibited at the museum can give visitors a quick and brief idea about what the history of this country looks like.”
Egypt’s tourism sector received a painful blow from the Russian plane crash in Sinai on October 31st, which killed all 224 passen­gers and crew on board.
A few days after the crash, Rus­sia, which used to send around 3 million tourists to Egypt every year, suspended flights to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada. Britain, which used to send 1 million tourists to Egypt every year, also suspended flights to the resorts.
Tourism expert Reem Fawzi said the Russian and British moves left Egypt’s tourism sector in a “de­plorable” condition.
“Every day that passes under these suspensions brings tourism investors untold losses,” Fawzi said. “This is why tourism authori­ties have to move in all directions to bring tourists back.”
The airport museum houses 38 pieces that tell the story of differ­ent eras of Egyptian history. The museum houses Greek and Roman artefacts and Coptic paintings, along with coins from various pe­riods of the country’s history.
One of the artefacts is of the Seated Scribe, which features an ancient Egyptian scribe at work.
Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damati said the museum will help boost tourism and give trav­ellers the chance to have a quick peek at ancient Egyptian civilisa­tion.
Tourism is a main foreign cur­rency earner for cash-strapped Egypt. In 2014, about 10 million foreign tourists visited the coun­try, bringing in $7.5 billion in rev­enues, a 27% increase compared to 2013.
Egyptian officials were hop­ing that the tourism sector would have fully recovered from the ef­fects of the 2011 uprising and its aftermath by the end of 2015.