Tourims In Egypt Essay, Research Paper
20 November 2000
Tourism in Egypt
Egypt is a country that is extremely rich in its historical background. With such a background it is easy to see why tourism is a big component of its gross national product. The well being of the Egyptian economy is highly dependent on a good year of tourism. The whole business of tourism has relied on the ancient monuments and relics of the past, but in recent years there has been a huge effort to create more modern tourist attractions like resorts and golf courses. The combinations of the old and new attractions comprise the biggest sector of the Egyptian economy.
For the most part it is said that Egypt consists basically of six different tourist sites. Three of the sites; Alexandria, Hurghada, and Sharm El Sheikh are coastal hotspots. They consist of many of the newer resorts offering many activities to its guests like water sports, casinos, nightclubs, and golf courses. These three sites would be considered the more modern sites. The other three sites; Aswan, Cairo, and Luxor are the more historical tourist sites. Although Aswan doesn?t hold that many historical monuments, the other two, Cairo and Luxor, are overflowing with them. These sites are highly geared towards the tourist and offer a wide variety of transportation and guided tours (Egypt Ministry).
Within a few of these sites are contained some of the most awe inspiring and ancient monuments known to man. Now when you first hear the word Egypt, you directly focus your attention to the Great Pyramids of Giza. It is easily one of Egypt?s most visited monuments and one of the world?s largest tourist attractions. The ancient Greeks considered the pyramids to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Another one of the great monuments to come out of ancient Egyptian society is the Sphinx. One of the greatest things about the Sphinx is that the purpose of it is still unknown and highly debated on. The Sphinx is known in Arabic as Abu El Hol, which means ?Father of Terror?. The actual name of Sphinx was given by the Greeks, who believed it was a representation of the mythical winged monster with a woman?s head and lion?s body who proposed a riddle to the Thebans and killed all who could not get the correct answer (Tourism and Entertainment).
Many of the artifacts found near or in these ancient Egyptian monuments are now stored in the Egyptian Museum. The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities was built in 1858 right in the middle of Cairo at Al Tahrir Square. The museum itself houses more then 100,000 of Egypt?s relics and antiques from virtually every period of its history. The exhibits are arranged chronologically starting with the Old Kingdom and going all the way up to the Roman Empire. ?If you spend one minute at each exhibit, it will take you nine months to see everything?(Tourism and Entertainment). You can just imagine the shear size of this massive building just by the last statement (Tourism and Entertainment).
The population of the country of Egypt is roughly 60 million people. Now just imagine how important the tourism sector is to the population when 10 million people have jobs directly or indirectly related to it. The reason for this high number is that a job in the tourism field is very profitable when compared to other jobs offered in the Egyptian economy. This is easy to see when you find out that the average visiting businessperson spends about $240.00 a day. Tourism is one of the major sources of hard currency; which is an effective factor in economic and social development. It took over Egypt?s main source of foreign exchange from oil in 1988 and has been on top ever since. In 1990, the gross domestic product reached 24 billion, of which 10% of that was a product of tourism. With the average number of tourists each year around 4.3 million spending about 2.5 billion annually, it?s easy to see why the percentage is so high (Zohery).
There are a few problems that Egypt is facing that are extremely detrimental to its tourism sector. One of the problems is that many of Egypt?s ancient monuments are being adversely affected by the high amount of tourist traffic to the area. Affects of this have already been seen. In February of 1988, a 500-pound chunk of limestone fell off of the Sphinx. What used to be true was that these great historical monuments had been protected for centuries by huge drifts of sand that have long since been cleared away to make more room for the tourists. What is happening as a result of this high traffic is all the evaporation that occurs. This leaves salt deposits in the pyramid, which wears away the stone, and this also happens on the walls where the art on the monuments are wearing away. Until recently, traffic was allowed extremely close to the monuments. What this did was to make small rumbles in the ground, which over time has started cracks in many of the monuments. Another problem Egypt has is its high pollution. All the smog from the cars and factories are producing acid rain that is falling on the monuments mostly made of limestone and wearing them down. The Egyptian government needs to take some precautionary action to counteract or at least soften the blow of many of these environmental factors. The country itself boasts about 10,000 antique sites that are irreplaceable. The future of tourism depends on protecting these sites (TED).
Another detriment to the tourism sector of the economy is its vulnerability to regional conflicts and terrorism. One such occurrence was during and right after the Gulf War, in 1991. The tourist sector reached an all time low with 10 million employees affected with a 20% unemployment rate. Another incident, this one of terrorism, occurred in 1997 when there was a massacre of 30 foreign tourists in Luxor. Total visitors to the country the following year fell 13%. Only in recent months have the number of tourists begun to reach the amounts it used to be (TED).
While the Egyptian government is making an attempt to develop more tourist attractions to the country, they need to preserve the ones that they already have. Only with a combination of both the old and the new will the Egyptian tourism sector continue to thrive.
Egyptian Ministry of Tourism Home Page. 29 Sept. 1999. Egyptian Ministry of Tourism. 5 Nov. 2000. http://www.touregyp.net
Egypt?s Tourism Net Home Page. 7 Mar. 1995. Egypt?s Tourism Net. 1 Nov. 2000. http://www.tourism.egnet.net
Zohery, Ali. Home Page. 17 Dec. 1998. 1 Nov. 2000. http://www.zohery.com/newsletter.htm