Tour operator looks to solve Egypt's tourism problem

Not so long ago, Egypt was the place to go on holiday. Some 14.7 million tourists visited the country in 2010, the year before the Arab Spring, Travel Weekly reports.

How things have changed.

Since the start of 2016, only three million tourists have visited the country – down by half compared with the same period last year, according to figures from the tourist authority.

It's easy to see why it's become a holiday black spot, with a series of aircraft crashes and terrorist attacks forcing holidaymakers to look elsewhere.

However, a Polish tour operator has come up with an ambitious plan to entice visitors back. Archaeological Paths is giving visitors the opportunity to have a private tour of the country, led by Egypt's 'self-styled Indiana Jones', Dr. Zahi Hawass, and the widow of the late president Anwar Sadat, Jehan Sadat. We did say it was ambitious.

Dr Hawass, dubbed the 'most famous archaeologist in the world' by Archaeological Paths, said he was making it his mission to turn the industry around, having grown frustrated with tourism authorities' attempts to woo back holidaymakers.

He believes that teaming up with 'Egypt's first lady' will prove to be the magic formula for rescuing the Egypt's tourism industry.

"I don't think there is anyone else working as hard to get tourists back to Egypt," he told The Times.

"Out of everyone from Egypt, people know me and Mrs Sadat. People can trust us. I'm known all over the world. Mrs Sadat is a respected person and loves Egypt. I think me and her can help save the country."

However, he has quite the challenge on his hands, with the Foreign Office (FCO) showing no sign of changing its warnings for UK airlines not to fly to Sharm el Sheikh airport.

While there is more to Egypt than Sharm el Sheikh, of course, much of Egypt is currently deemed unsafe for visitors.

The unease stems from the crash of a St Petersburg-bound flight shortly after take-off on October 31 last. The loss of the Metrojet plane caused the deaths of 224 Russian passengers and crew, with Moscow subsequently stating that the incident was caused by an explosive device.

A second crash in May, when an EgyptAir aircraft plunged into the Mediterranean on its way from Paris to Cairo, only heightened concerns.

It's hard to imagine that a series of private tours will alleviate those concerns, but it's an interesting idea from Archaeological Paths nonetheless.

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