Egypt has had a more than difficult year when it has come to tourism, but is hoping that renewed efforts to tempt back international travellers will start to pay dividends.
A major project to improve facilities at the famous Giza Necropolis – including the pyramids and the Great Sphinx – is due to be completed in September. As part of the work, new security gates have been put in place to help ease travellers’ fears about visiting the last existing Wonder of the World. The €35 million project began all the way back in 2009 and also includes a new control room, a visitor centre, and improved parking facilities. Rubbish bins have been installed around the site to reduce the littering problem, which often comes as a surprise to Western visitors. Souvenir vendors, who had the run of the complex, will now be moved to designated areas in another attempt to improve the visitor experience.
In an interview with a local Arabic-language newspaper Ashraf Mohie Eddin – the archaeological director – explained what had spurred the major work. He said: “we are determined to make big improvements. There are monuments that need to be restored from scratch, and others that need work because they were restored incorrectly before the law on protecting antiquities came into effect. We have hit some obstacles in the form of a shortage of funds, but are using all our resources to overcome this.”
In addition, extra signs in both English and Arabic will be installed warning people against climbing the pyramids and other ruins. In January, a German teenager made headlines around the world after he climbed to the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza where he took a series of spectacular photos. Climbing the pyramids causes wear and tear to the fragile stone and is strongly discouraged by Egyptian authorities – with the possibility of three years in jail for those caught in the act.