Deputy Head of the Hotels Chamber in Egypt Hani Al-Saher criticised a plan to collect donations from tourists to help fund the building of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza.
The Ministry of Antiquities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tourism Ministry and the Chamber of Hotel Facilities to launch a donation campaign to collect money from tourists to complete the establishment of the Grand Egyptian Museum, according to state-owned Al-Ahram.
“Has begging in Egypt reached this extent?” asked Saher, commenting on the initiative. “Well, I guess in Egypt everyone begs now: Ministries, officials and the citizens themselves.”
The initiative will ask tourists to donate $1 or its equivalent in Egyptian pounds for each night they spend at an Egyptian hotel. The donation request will be printed on the hotel receipt tourists receive as they check out, though a maximum donation of $7 for one complete period has been set.
These funds will then be transferred to a Ministry of Antiquities account, said minister of antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim.
“It will be optional, of course,” he added.
The Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza will overlook the pyramids, and is expected upon completion to be the largest museum in the world. It will cover an area of 100,000 square metres. Antiquities currently present at the Egyptian Museum near Tahrir Square will be moved there once it is completed.
The total cost of the museum totals $800m and will be covered through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and by the Egyptian government, represented by the Ministry of Antiquities.
“Despite going through critical economic woes,” said Minister of Tourism Hesham Za’zou. “We won’t halt work even for one day in order to complete this huge edifice. The donation campaign aims to avoid losses caused through halted work on the museum, which is estimated at millions.”
Saher, however, is not convinced. He continued: “This won’t affect tourism, and it has come at a very strange time, especially in the shadow of the increase in antiquities fees, electricity, and others. How can the tourist be expected to bear all these burdens?”
“If a tourist comes to spend a whole week with his family,” he continued. “It means he would have to pay $7 for each individual. The question is, for what; what makes him have to pay this money for building a museum in Egypt? Especially since Egypt is now witnessing the B and C class of tourists.”
“I think it would have been better to increase the ticket price of an EgyptAir flight by, say, EGP 3, rather than do something like this,” he concluded.
The Grand Egyptian Museum is located approximately two kilometres from the Giza Pyramids. It will house artefacts from ancient Egypt and has been described as the largest archaeological museum in the world.
The museum is scheduled to open in 2015.
It is also known as “the Giza Museum”.