Desperately seeking tourists, Egypt opens airport museum
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.