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Revolution: “One more reason to visit Egypt”
Pyramids at Giza, Sakkara virtually empty of tourists; Camel drivers, guides urge foreign visitors to return; Students clean monuments, say: "Egypt is Safe".
March 1, 2011 3:19 by Reuters
Young Egyptians have launched an “Egypt is Safe” campaign, students are cleaning up national monuments and drivers now take visitors around Cairo’s Tahrir Square as an attraction, anything to get the tourists back.
Sites around the great pyramid at Giza, a Wonder of the Ancient World, the Sphinx and the cemetery at Sakkara have been nearly empty of tourists since a revolt started a month ago that ousted Hosni Mubarak, and now Egypt wants visitors to return.
“In terms of reviving tourism, the problem is currently Libya not us. The whole region is very hot right now,” Karim Mohsen, managing director of Sylvia Tours Egypt, said, referring to an uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in the western neighbour.
“Libya is on the border with Egypt and what people see happening there is terrible and therefore they’re afraid to come to the area,” Mohsen told Reuters, in a view reflected by other tour operators and guides who expected several more idle weeks.
Those trying to draw tourists back to cruises down the Nile and Egypt’s ancient artefacts want to turn the nation’s political turmoil to their advantage. One proposed slogan suggests the revolution is “One More Reason to Visit Egypt”.
Hundreds of students at Giza, visited by statesmen from Jimmy Carter to Napoleon and usually bustling with thousands of tourists, rallied at the weekend with “Egypt is Safe” signs, hoping to get the message over to the rest of the world.
“Please tell your friends not to fear the revolution. This is the new Egypt and it welcomes, you,” said Heba, 18.
Life in Egypt is still far from normal, with many schools still shut, weekly mass protests at Tahrir Square, a curfew and tanks with soldiers at key intersections in Cairo.
But in symbolic visits of confidence, prominent U.S. Congressmen John McCain and Joseph Lieberman appeared in the square at the weekend. They join British Prime Minister David Cameron and others who have recently made the trip.