Replica Tutankhamun tomb set to open in Luxor

A painstakingly accurate replica of King Tut’s tomb is set to open in EgyptLuxor

Its existence will present visitors with the moral dilemma of paying to see the original tomb or helping to preserve its future existence by visiting the facsimile version instead. 

The Supreme Council of Antiquities commissioned carefully-crafted replicas of the tombs of Seti I, Nefertari and Tutankhamun back in 2009.

The move was a bid to stave off further irreparable damage caused by decades of tourists flocking to see the boy king’s burial chamber and other ancient tombs.

Wall painting of Tutankhamun flanked by Anubis and Hathor
Changes in temperature and humidity, say experts, is causing the intricately painted plaster to crumble away from the walls. Visitors could soon be completely banned from entering them


A Madrid-based company, Factum Arte, which has worked with museums all over the world to produce facsimiles of endangered art, used high-tech 3D scanners to create the replica of King Tut’s tomb in a process that has taken several years to complete.

November will see the new version of the tomb of Tutankhamun installed just outside Howard Carter’s house, around half a mile from where the original lays in Luxor‘s Valley of the Kings.

Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon at Opening of King Tutankhamun's Tomb

On November 4th 1922, after years of toiling away in the Valley of the Kings, British archaeologist Howard Carter sensationally discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb and revealed one of the most significant Egyptian excavations of all time.

The fascination with Carter’s story and the perpetual promise of more discoveries has seen tourists pouring into the sun-drenched site although there has been a significant dip in tourism this year as the country has suffered from ongoing political protests.

One of the Factum Arte team, Briton Adam Lowe, is hopeful that the replica will become as popular as the orginal as visitors ‘become part of the force that protects it [the original] rather than a force that is leading to its destruction.’

He told the BBC: ‘They will have the thrill of visiting something they know is 3,000 years old and they have the guilt of knowing, as they look at it, that their presence is part of the reason why it won’t be there in another 100 years’ time.’

Source: dailymail

Classic Egypt back on map as FCO relaxes advice for tourists visiting Luxor and Aswan

British tourists wishing to visit the Valley of the Kings, home to Tutankhamun’s famous tomb, can once again do so safe in the knowledge that they will be covered by travel insurance after the British government relaxed long-standing advisories.

The FCO is still warning against all but essential travel to a large part of the country including Cairo and the North Sinai but destinations such as Luxor, Aswan and the Abu Simbel temples in Nubia are back on the map.

A spokesperson for the FCO said: ‘We continue to urge British nationals already in Egypt to follow the instructions of the local authorities and obey curfews where they are in place. There remains a high threat from terrorism throughout Egypt. This has not changed.’

They continued: ‘As always, the safety of British nationals is a priority. We continue to follow developments carefully, and keep our travel advice under continuous review.

‘British nationals should continue to monitor FCO travel advice closely for any updates and stay away from any demonstrations or protests.’

Speaking at a holiday industry conference in London last week, Egypt’s minister of tourism Hisham Zaazou told journalists: ‘More than 18 countries have lifted the travel advisory on Luxor and Aswan. As soon as the FCO revises its travel advice for the UK, we will work tirelessly with our valued media, travel agent and tour operator partners to communicate that the whole of Egypt is open.’

International tourism hits one billion



1billionOne billion tourists have travelled the world in 2012, marking a new record for international tourism – a sector that accounts for one in every 12 jobs and 30% of the world’s services exports. On the symbolic arrival date of the one-billionth tourist (13 December 2012), UNWTO revealed the actions tourists can take to ensure their trips benefit the people and places they visit, as voted by the public.     

International tourism has continued to grow in 2012, despite global economic uncertainty, to reach over one billion international tourist arrivals. The figure cements tourism’s position as one of the world’s largest economic sectors, accounting for 9% of global GDP (direct, indirect and induced impact), one in every 12 jobs and up to 8% of the total exports of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Recalling the positive impact even the smallest action can have if multiplied by one billion, UNWTO launched theOne Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities campaign to celebrate this milestone, showing tourists that respecting local culture, preserving heritage or buying local goods when travelling can make a big difference. The public was asked to vote for the Travel Tip that would have the greatest benefit for the people and places they visit and to pledge to follow that tip when traveling.

The winning tip, revealed on the arrival date of the one-billionth tourist, was Buy Local, encouraging tourists to buy food and souvenirs locally, or hire local guides, to ensure their spending translates into jobs and income for host communities. A close second, Respect Local Culture calls on tourists to learn more about their destination’s traditions, or some words in the local language, before leaving home.

“Today, we welcome the symbolic arrival of the one-billionth tourist” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Your actions count. That is our message to the one billion tourists. Through the right actions and choices, each tourist represents an opportunity for a fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable future.”

As it is impossible to know exactly where the one-billionth tourist arrived, many countries are celebrating the occasion by welcoming tourists arriving on 13 December. UNWTO is celebrating in Madrid, Spain, home to its headquarters, by welcoming the symbolic one-billionth tourist in the Museo del Prado, Madrid’s most-visited tourism attraction, together with the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism of Spain.


Relevant links:

One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities

To see where the one billion tourists come from, where they travel to, how they get there and what their trips mean for development, see the One Billion Tourists infographics

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, on the importance of reaching one billion international tourists


Domestic travelers offer lifeline to ailing Egyptian tourism industry

Egypt - Siwa








A small number of tourists recently climbed the crumbling ramparts of Shali fortress to photograph the oasis town of Siwa in Egypt.

Between the 13th to early 20th century the fortress was home to Siwans who lived inside the salt and mud brick walls to protect themselves from marauding Bedouins who came from the north coast and over what is now the nearby Libyan border to steal from and sometimes kill these farming people.

A freak rain storm in the 1930s damaged the walls, which left them now resembling a collapsing sand castle.

This historical and picturesque setting was once a rich hub for local and international tourists, but in in post-revolution Egypt, numbers have decreased.

Until the popular uprising in early 2011, the industry accounted for more than a 10th of Egypt’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but foreign tourists have shown reluctance to return as sporadic unrest continues to haunt the country.

The annual Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha is traditionally a time when Egyptians travel and in Siwa those in the tourist trade were relieved to have full tables in restaurants like Abdu’s.

This low budget eatery is recommended by the Lonely Planet guide book, making it top of the list for backpackers from abroad. But the majority of their income this year has come from domestic tourists.

This is not, according to Siwa Tourist Information Manager Mahdi Hweiti, the most desirable demographic.

”International tourism is better than domestic tourism,” said Hweiti.

”International tourists from Europe rent bikes, buy local handicrafts and they stay in the hotels for long periods, but the domestic tourists, even foreigners who live in Cairo or Alexandria, only come for short periods during the national holidays and they don’t spend much money like the international tourists coming from Europe, Asia or America,” he added.

Hweiti said overseas visitors typically make up some 25 percent of tourist numbers in Siwa.

One group of 50 mid-20-year-olds from Alexandria were in Siwa during the recent Eid al-Adha to experience the western desert and hit the dunes in a convoy of four wheel drives hired locally.

There is plenty of excitement to be had in the “Sea of Sand,” the world’s largest stretch of sand dunes and a place so vast and disorienting that myths perpetuate of whole armies being lost there.

Even experienced drivers can make mistakes on this treacherous terrain, but a short delay provides another great photo opportunity for city visitors who may might not pay the same premium as foreign tourists — Egyptians are famed for their bargaining powers — but restaurant manager and tour organizer Fathi Abdulla said they are highly valuable to the local economy.

“Domestic tourism is very important for Egypt as a whole and for Siwa specifically and all the oases,”’ said Abdulla.

“Domestic tourists come and buy handicrafts and local products, it’s easy to carry as much weight as you like and it’s easy to take it anywhere in Egypt. For international tourists it’s hard to carry heavy weight items while travelling. So each form of tourism has its value,” he added.

While they may spend less per person, local tourists are greater in number and as this year’s earnings show, have been a more reliable source of income for the sector.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Tourist Association is working to recover Egypt’s image and bring visitors back.

Numbers of overseas visitors dropped from 14.5 million in 2010 to 9.8 million in 2011 and earnings fell from two billion U.S. dollars to 1.5.

In early October, Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou said he was targeting 11-12 million tourists this year. Zaazou said in the first nine months the country saw 8.8 million visitors.

The first bus made it along the newly built tarmac road in 1985 and the first guide books covered Siwa in 1987. Hweiti founded the tourism office in Siwa in 1996, but he worries about the effect of tourism on the local community.

“The threat when lots of tourists come here is that people here will leave their work in the fields and gardens and nobody will do manual work, everybody will turn to work in safaris, restaurants and handicrafts,” Hweiti said.

“They’ll be tempted by the money. This is a serious threat,” he expressed.

But with a drop-off of 90 percent in visitor numbers since the uprising, according to Hweiti, there is no immediate danger of this.

Agriculture is still the mainstay of the local economy with tourism making up some 20 percent of income, he estimated.

The area around Siwa offers excursions of several hours up to several weeks and the group from Alexandria tried out sand boarding before washing off the sand in first a hot spring, then a cold natural spring set in the middle of desert.

For group organizer Islam Saad from Alexandria, Siwa was a refreshing break from cosmopolitan life and a reminder of a simpler time.

“I came to Siwa because it’s an amazing place and it’s where I have the most fun. It’s a really simple place with lots of lakes and oases,” he said.

“I’m having fun with my friends and we’re spending four days here. We see the simplicity of the houses and how Siwans live. It’s a really nice place and I recommend everybody to come here,” Saad added.

Saad organizes trips like this two or three times a year and he is not alone.

Many Egyptians with disposable income travel and because of the cost of flights and the difficulties in getting visas for foreign travel, domestic trips to places like Siwa are popular.

Egypt: Zaazou – Egypt Political Situation on Right Track

Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou

said on Tuesday 23/10/2012 that the political situation in Egypt is on the right track and a state of stability is prevailing after security was restored in the Egyptian street.

The Minister made his remarks at a press conference during his three-day visit to Poland. The formation of the new government in August positively influenced the stability in Egypt, he added. He lauded the Polish role in supporting Egypt during the last period in all fields, especially in tourism.

Egypt’s tour guides to embark on open strike in November

Tour guides are organizing for strike action next month, saying long-held work demands have been ignored by the Ministry of Tourism Egypt’s tourist guides are planning for an open strike after stoppages 15-17 November, charging that the Ministry of Tourism has ignored their long-time demands, the state-run Arabic-language Al-Ahram news reported Saturday.The head of Egypt’s Syndicate of Tour Guides, Moataz El-Sayed, has called on all governmental authorities to respond to the tour guides’ demands or they will escalate their strike.He added at Saturday’s press conference that one of their demands is to create a fund for unemployment benefits given the rise of joblessness among guides. El-Sayed confirmed that tour guide representatives met with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi but received nothing.Among the tour guides’ demands is health insurance against work accidents and ensuring the independence of their syndicate.The number of tourists visiting Egyptin the first half of 2012 grew by 23 per cent to reach 5.08 million, according to data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, released in August.