Tourists visit the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt, Aug. 25, 2021. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
by Mahmoud Fouly
LUXOR, Egypt, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- The monument-rich city of Luxor in Upper Egypt has recently been seeing increasing foreign tourists amid Egyptian implementation of COVID-19 precautionary measures against the virus.
Many groups of tourists, each led by a tour guide, were seen in different spots at the Karnak Temple Complex in the ancient capital of Upper Egypt during the New Kingdom, starting with an avenue of large ram statues on both sides, then crossing the main giant pylon to the Great Hypostyle Hall with its 134 large columns representing the papyrus flower.
The visitors then are exposed to a vast mix of ancient temples, chapels, pylons, and other pharaonic structures inside Karnak.
In a recent inspection tour at the temples of Karnak, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly stopped to welcome groups of tourists from Russia, Croatia, and others.
"I wish you a pleasant stay and a nice visit to Luxor," the prime minister told the tourists who appreciated the gesture.
Madbouly later told reporters that "they are our guests here. So, I wanted to make sure they are enjoying their time and of course our magnificent monuments here in Luxor."
A tourist from Slovenia, Peter Gologranc, expressed his happiness to visit Luxor and said he always wished to visit Egypt due to his love for the country's ancient civilization.
"It is my first visit to Luxor. I am very pleased I am here. The temple complex is very impressive and I always loved the ancient Egyptian history and culture," the 29-year-old tourist told Xinhua at the temple complex.
He added the COVID-19 precautionary measures implemented in Egypt were adequate and he had no relevant concerns.
"The procedures are good enough. No worries at all. It's as precautious as it should be," he said with a smile.
The growing number of foreign tourists in Egypt coincided with the recent Russian decision to resume direct flights to Egyptian Red Sea resorts, including Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, after nearly six years of suspension over a deadly Russian plane crash in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Svetlana Neborachek, a Russian visitor, was taking a tour at the largest hypostyle hall inside the Karnak Temple Complex with her husband and two little boys.
"The place is very nice. We are glad that Egypt is reopened for us because it's very nice and wonderful," the Russian woman told Xinhua, noting that they have visited the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada before they came to Luxor.
The growing number of tourists in Luxor relevantly improves the business of travel agencies, gift shops and taxis.
However, many tour guides, souvenir shop owners and taxi drivers say that most of those foreign tourists come to Luxor on one-day trips but they are mainly based in Red Sea resorts as their main destination.
But they still consider the current inflow of foreign tourists to Luxor is a good sign of a better tourism season to come.
"It's a very good and promising beginning, and we're looking forward to more foreign tourists in September," said Zakariya Haggag, a 34-year-old taxi driver from Luxor, noting that some Nile River cruises with foreign tourists started to operate as well.
Mostafa al-Saghir, director-general of Karnak temples, said that although it's still summer, a season that usually sees fewer foreign tourists, the current number of foreign tourists in Luxor is "very good."
"This is the result of the efforts made by the state to launch large scale marketing campaigns for tourism in Egypt," the official told Xinhua at Karnak.
The Egyptian tourism sector has recovered by 40 percent amid COVID-19 precautionary measures, eyeing further recovery after more countries lift relevant lockdowns and travel bans, said Ahmed Youssef, chairman of Egypt's Tourism Promotion Authority, in an interview with Xinhua last month. Enditem