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Egypt reopens pharaoh’s tomb

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The tombs of Queen Nefertari and King Seti I in the ancient Upper Egyptian city of Luxor, dating back to the New Kingdom era, will reopen to tourists after being closed for several years, Egyptian antiquities officials said last week.

The two famous pharaonic sites, both with a history of more than 3,000 years, have been closed years ago for restoration as a result of increased humidity caused by visitors, which is harmful to the exquisite wall paintings in the burial chambers.

Pharaoh’s tomb
Pharaoh’s tomb

They are expected to reopen in a month. The authorities plan to limit the number of visitors to a range of 100 and 150 per day.

Its setting of the ticket price to 1,000 Egyptian pounds (110 U.S. dollars) is in an apparent attempt to strike a balance between tourism and cultural heritage conservation.

“The decision was taken to attract more tourists to Luxor after the decline of tourism in Egypt following the 2011 uprising,” Egyptian minister of antiquities Khaled al-Enany told local media.

It is the latest attempt by the Egyptian authorities to win back tourists after years of domestic political turmoil and a scad of terror attacks and aviation accidents.

Last month, the first pyramid inscripted with “pyramid texts” at Sakkara, an ancient burial ground some 30 km south of Cairo, was reopened to attract tourists after being closed for 20 years.

With a history of over 4,000 years, the pyramid of King Unas, 25 km south of the Great Pyramid of Giza, is considered one of the most important pyramids in Egypt despite its small size.

Also in May, four tombs of royal butlers of New Kingdom in Luxor have opened to the public after four years’ restoration.

They contain well-preserved wall paintings showing ancient Egyptian gods including Anubis, who is associated with mummification.

The opening of those tombs is also part of the North African country’s efforts to rejuvenate its ailing tourism sector.

In the wake of the 2011 uprising, the once-thriving tourism industry in Egypt was dealt more heavy blows following the downing of a Russian airliner over North Sinai last October and the crash of EgyptAir Flight MS804 in the Mediterranean last month.

Tourist arrivals in April dropped 54 percent compared with the same month last year, with a total of 425,000 visitors, the sixth consecutive month that tourism declined, the Central Agency of Public Mobilization and Statistics of Egypt said last week.

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