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Home to the world's most ancient sites and famous monuments, including the Giza Pyramids, the Great Sphinx, the Nile and Red Sea coral reefs, and Sharm El Sheik resort, as well as the grand Khan El Khalily market, Egypt stands as one of the African continent's top travel draws.
Egypt to Host ATA 34th Annual Congress, May 2009
The Egyptian Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with the Egyptian Tourist Authority, will host the Africa Travel Association's 34th Annual Congress in Cairo, May 17-22, 2009. A joint announcement was made by Hon. Zoheir Garranah, Egyptian Tourism Minister, and Edward Bergman, ATA Executive Directorat "It is with great pride that we are now working with ATA to welcome the world to Egypt for ATA's Annual Congress," said Minister Garranah. "We look forward to welcoming the world to our country."
Connecting Destination AfricaUnder the above banner, ATA's hallmark event will be attended by African tourism ministers, national tourism board directors, private sector leaders, travel agents, tour operators, heads of nongovernmental organizations, scholars, and members of the media, who will discuss together challenges related to global tourism promotion to Africa.
"ATA is looking forward to engaging with the world's leading travel specialists to bring the world to Africa," Bergman said. "By combining Egypt's unique capacity to achieve record numbers in tourist arrivals with ATA's ability to bring diverse industry leaders together to shape Africa's tourism agenda, this meeting holds tremendous promise for change in the industry and the global marketplace."
Active in ATA since 1983ATA held its eighth congress in Cairo; its 16th was held in 1991. Today, tourism is the largest source of foreign currency revenue in Egypt and authorities plan to welcome 16 million tourism arrivals by 2014.
"We anticipate that the 2009 Congress will not only help Egypt reach its target, but it will also help the country generate even more tourism growth from the U.S. and Africa, as well as from Asia and the Caribbean" said Bergman.
The Congress, to be held at the Cairo International Conference Center (CICC), will run for five days, engaging participants in working discussions on a range of topics, such as intra-African industry cooperation, infrastructure development and investment opportunities. Roundtables for ministers, suppliers, travel agents and tour operators, alongside special networking events, a marketplace expo, and ATA Young Professionals events, will also be held. For the first time, ATA will also organize networking opportunities for Africans living in the Diaspora as part of its new Africa Diaspora Initiative.
"Egypt also stands as an example for other African destinations to turn to, especially given that foreign and Egyptian investments helped drive the tourism boom by helping the government target coast regions and build supportive tourism infrastructure, including accommodation stock and better airport services. In fact, ATA delegates will arrive in Egypt's newly opened international airport," said Bergman.
Host Country and Pre Post ToursEgypt will organize a Host Country Day for delegates, who will have the opportunity to explore some of these tourism spots, as well as many more. Pre and post-country tours will also be offered.
To prepare for the event, ATA sent a delegation to Egypt in August for a site inspection. The team met Hon. Zoheir Garranah, Minister of Tourism, Mr. Amr El Ezabi, Chairman of the Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA), as well as Mr. Riad Kabil, Secretary General of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association, a 1,600-member association.
The ATA delegation also met Captain Tawfik Assy, Chair of Egyptair Holding Company, and Mr. Ashraf Osman, EGYPTAIR's General Manager of Sales to introduce the association and the congress. of the event. For more information on Egypt, visit the Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) website at www.egypt.travel.
Pharaohs Lure Tourists
Story and photos by Habeeb Salloum
From atop the Cairo Tower, the mighty Nile appears to be overwhelmed by the edging luxury hotels and towering apartment buildings. Beyond, the city with its crowded streets, literally infested with humanity, spreads out to the horizon. In between the avenues with their mass of darting autos, one sees a thousand minarets of new and historic mosques, peppered with a number of Coptic-Christian basilicas.
Cairo a Mixture of East-WestIt appears to be an inviting city to explore - a mixture of eastern exoticism and Western sophistication.
Yet, this is not what the millions of people traveling to Egypt want to see. If one turns atop the Tower to the other side, in the distance, a visitor glimpses the outline of the Great Pyramids. Located on a desert plateau on the western edge of the city, they are the magnets that draw these tourists. It is as if the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt are still caring for their descendants. Of the millions of tourists who travel to Egypt, the vast majority come to view the monumental vestiges left by one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known.
Europeans and North Americans, traveling in groups, usually stop in Cairo, the cultural capital of the Arab world, but never in reality see Africa's largest city, milling with some 15 million inhabitants. They spend one or two days visiting the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities and the Great Pyramids, then are whisked southward to see the other eye-bulging works of the ancient Egyptians around Luxor and Aswan. Pyramids and Sphinx, World's Enduring Monuments Perhaps the tour operators have a point when they steer their herds toward these world renowned monuments. Continued.By any standard, the pyramids - the only one of the 'Seven Wonders of the World' which still exist - are an unbelievable accomplishment by ancient man. It is said that no traveler who has viewed them for the first time, has not gasped in awe, overwhelmed by their majesty. With their guardian, the Sphinx, they stand on a desert plateau some 15 km (9.3 mi) from the heart of Cairo. Since the days of ancient Greece and continuing to modern times, they have been visited, written about, explored and, in this century, have become a part of world mythology.
Called the Giza Pyramids to distinguish them from the other 108 pyramids in the country, they are approached by a wide-straight road built in the 19th century by the Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III. She came during the inauguration of the Suez Canal and in order to see the pyramids, the empress constructed this avenue called Al-Ahram - in Arabic meaning 'the pyramids'.
Giza Pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos
In the early 1960s, when I first visited the pyramids, this road was mostly edged by desert. Today, it is one of Cairo's major and longest streets and, on both sides, a forest of buildings cover every inch of space to the very edge of these venerable monuments. Standing immutably majestic, the Giza Pyramids of Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos, the most famous of all the attractions in Egypt, have watched humans come and go for untold centuries. The largest and oldest of these is the Great Pyramid of Cheops, erected about 2590 B.C. Its base covers 6 ha (13 ac) and it is estimated to contain 3 million separate blocks of stones, averaging 2 1/2 tons each.
Once these pyramids and others played a vital role in the lives of Egypt's kings and peasants. Today, for many, they are the trademark of lasting power, drawing, from across the globe, tourists and those who dabble in magic and the extraterrestrial. Watching haughtily over the pyramids is the nearby famous Sphinx, carved out of solid natural rock by Chephren the son of Cheops, the builder of the second pyramid. He had this huge statue sculptured from soft limestone with a lion's body, and a god's face - believed to be his own. For over 45 centuries, it has defied time, witnessing all the morning suns civilized man has seen. Carved in the midst of temples, which are in the process of being excavated, this half man half beast statue has acquired, through the centuries, an air of mystery and romance. The magnificence of the pyramids and the Sphinx are superbly portrayed in the 'Sound and Light' shows, presented nightly. After sunset throughout the year, on different nights, in Arabic, English, French and German, these shows, the finest of their kind presented anywhere, draw droves of tourists. They add much to the appreciation of the Giza phaorononic monuments and their history.
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
On the other hand, more thrilling to many tourists is the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, housing some 100 thousand exhibits. It contains a very rich store of remains from the Ancient Egyptian civilizations, including the 4000 piece treasure found in Tutankhamen's tomb. Few museums in the world can even come close to its impressive exhibits. This huge classical-style museum was built in 1853 by Auguste Mariette, the great pioneer archaeologist, but its collection has only occupied the building since 1902. Days are needed to truly appreciate the exhibits, not the half or one day tours allotted most visitors.
However, the museum has long become too small for its ever-increasing collections and a modern and larger one is in the works. Nevertheless, this too will likely be not spacious enough after it is completed. The untold thousands of pieces of one of the oldest and grandest civilizations on earth can easily fill half a dozen museums.
After this storehouse of priceless ancient treasures, one becomes eager to explore the boundless pharaonic monuments around Luxor and Aswan where, it is said, half of the world's important ruins are to be found. The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo is the best door through which tourists can enter into this heart of the pharaonic history/