by Ahmed Shafiq
Standing near Egypt’s most renowned tourist attraction, large crowds of Egyptians and foreign tourists as well as some Egyptian ministers and government officials eagerly observed the 2016 countdown show on New Year’s Eve.
Organized by the Egyptian government, the event was set to promote the ailing tourism industry, pillar industry of the Egyptian economy, which has been striving for a robust recovery.
“I tell the whole world to come and see the real Egypt; this is our civilization, the world’s most ancient civilization. Egypt is very beautiful, breathtaking and safe,” Heba Saeed, a housewife, told Xinhua.
Saeed, who came to the pyramids with her family to celebrate the New Year, wished that all the economic projects that Egypt started in 2015 would be completed successfully, adding that Egyptians should show the world the real good image of Egypt in order to attract tourists and investors.
Egypt has been taking a series of measures to breathe life into tourism after a Russian airplane crashed over North Sinai in October.
The Russian plane crash incident in Egypt’s Sinai peninsular added another blow to Egypt’s descending tourism sector, as it eventually led some countries, including Britain and Russia, to suspend their flights to Egypt’s renowned Red Sea resort Sharm el-Sheikh and to evacuate their nationals from there over security concerns.
Over the past three years, Egypt has seen recurrent mass protests that led to the overthrow of two heads of state and hence chaotic political, economic and security conditions, causing recession to the country’s tourism industry.
Tourism has always been one of the main sources of the North African country’s national income and foreign currency reserves.
“Tourism will be back to normal and even better than before,” Minister of Tourism Hisham Zazou told the crowds around the pyramids.
The minister added that the government will save no efforts to revive tourism sector, stressing that many activities will be held soon to send messages to the whole world that Egypt is safe.
Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh al-Damaty told reporters during the celebration that the event is a message of peace to the world.
“We are very optimistic about the future of Egypt. I’m sure tourism will be great once again. These large crowds deliver a message to the world that Egypt is safe and hopefully 2016 will witness a strong comeback of tourism,” the minister said.
The Great Pyramid of Khufu, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, was also illuminated with shiny colors and images of ancient Egyptian’s kings beautifully projected on the historical landmark.
National songs were played during the event with young people dancing in celebration of the New Year.
“I hope this year will be a good year for my country, and of course I wish the same for the whole world. I hope peace will prevail in the Middle East and all our troubles and problems come to an end,” Sherif Ahmed, a tourism investor, told Xinhua as he watched fireworks lighting up the pyramids.
“Egypt is beautiful and I wish all our troubles will vanish soon,” he said. Enditem