2022 will be full of surprises: Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister

Nehal Samir
16 Min Read

The year 2022 will be full of surprises that will dazzle the world, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany told Daily News Egypt in an interview. The interview touched on the Tourism Ministry’s plans and prospects for 2022, revealing the events that Egypt will dazzle the world with this year.


Why do you consider 2022 to be a special year?

The year 2022 is a very distinguished period, as it will mark the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, the 200th anniversary of deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the inception of Egyptology as a field of academia.

The year will also witness the inauguration of many major archaeological projects.

Also, the date 22/02/2022 seems exceptional, which will hardly be repeated, so a fascinating celebration at Abu-Simbel Temple in Aswan will celebrate the sun alignment.

Furthermore, 2022 will witness the completion of the Galala Project, Al-Alamein City, and the Great Transfiguration Project in St. Catherine, as well as the inauguration of Sphinx Airport, which will change the touristic map and will allow receiving or landing charter flights in the heart of the capital for the first time, so tourists can visit the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in about 20 minutes and the pyramids in about five minutes.

Also, we will be celebrating the removal of the Monastery of Abu Mina from the red list of UNESCO and the end of this nightmare after almost 20 years.

So, we have a lot of surprises that will dazzle the world in 2022.


Could you tell us more about the major archaeological projects that will be inaugurated in 2022?

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is preparing during the coming period to open several archaeological projects, including the Mohamed Ali Pasha Palace in Shubra, which will be inaugurated in February; the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria, which will be available in the summer; the eagerly awaited GEM, which will be inaugurated near the end of the year; the Suez Canal Museum, which will open its doors sometime this year; and the Capitals Museum in the City of Arts and Culture in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), which will also be inaugurated sometime this year.

I want to also mention that the ministry is working hard to carry out the rehabilitation and restoration works for Amr Ibn Al-Aas’ Mosque, which is the oldest surviving mosque in Egypt and Africa, so that it will receive worshipers during the month of Ramadan (April 2022).


The whole world is eagerly awaiting the GEM’s inauguration, so what are the latest updates regarding the project and its surrounding area?

Around 99% of the project has been completed; with more than 55,000 artefacts transferred and restored.

All the heavy pieces in the atrium and the grand staircase have been installed and more than 85% of the artefacts in Tutankhamun’s collection have been placed in their showcases.

The inauguration date is yet to be set by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. We promise to dazzle and surprise the world with the celebration. The celebration will be run for several days because this great edifice deserves a dazzling celebration.

Also, the area surrounding the GEM has been developed, which includes the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, Al-Remaya Square, and the Cairo-Fayoum Desert Road.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and enters its third year, what is the state of the tourism sector?

Since the opening of the incoming international tourism movement in July 2020, the movement is witnessing a rise every month, which confirms the confidence of tourists and the governments of countries coming from them to the precautionary measures taken by the Egyptian state to confront the outbreak of the coronavirus.

During the pandemic, Egypt not only succeeded in resuming tourism, but it has restarted incoming tourism from Russia and the UK after being suspended, and we are on our way to add new major tourist markets during 2022.

So, we are not currently in the phase of making record numbers, as the world is not currently prioritising breaking records. Instead, we are prioritising ensuring the safety and security of tourists in order to gain their confidence in what we present, and I think our experience is successful.

This is not my work alone; it is due to the Egyptian state’s interest in the tourism and antiquities sector and the unprecedented support from the political leadership that was evident during the pandemic.

Frankly, the state has played an important role in supporting this hard-hit sector, especially to guarantee employees’ livelihoods and prepare them for the return of tourism activity once the pandemic is over.

The mission of the ministry in normal circumstances is to solve problems and promote new markets, but in the pandemic, the task has become to support the sector, preserve employment, and prepare to work with all capacities once the pandemic ends.


What are the markets that Egypt is targeting in 2022?

The ministry has succeeded in developing a great strategy to support the Egyptian tourism sector, especially after overcoming the pandemic, and it has succeeded in opening new markets in the whole world. Our current strategy is targeting a global outreach.

This year, the ministry is targeting African markets. It is also looking to cooperate with Hungary, especially as Egypt will be the guest of honour at the Hungarian tourism fair next March.


In your opinion, how did the merger between the Ministries of Antiquities and Tourism impact positively both sectors?

The merger of the two ministries benefited both sectors, and it greatly facilitated decision-making. I want to stress that each ministry has its own budget.

It also contributed to the success of the events and activities organised by the ministry, such as the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade, the inauguration of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) in Al-Fustat, and the reopening of the Avenue of Sphinxes in Luxor.

To give you an example, for reopening of the avenue, the Supreme Council of Antiquities carried out the archaeological part of the restoration and excavation of the rams’ road, and then the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board (ETPB) was responsible for the preparation of the ceremony and promoting it.


You were thinking of dedicating a special day for tourists, could you elaborate more on this?

We are studying and currently discussing the mechanisms of dedicating a day to celebrate tourists, just like Archaeologists’ Day.   

We are considering 1 July, as it coincides with the beginning of the rise in summer beach tourism. We are also thinking of making the event an annual carnival that will be organised in Sharm El-Sheikh or in the North Coast.


Where are we now from announcing the completion of the national project to revive the Holy Family’s route in Egypt?

In 2021, three restoration projects of sites along the path of the Holy Family’s journey were inaugurated; one in Samanoud, Gharbeya; the second in Sakha, Kafr El-Sheikh; and the third is in Tal Basta, Sharqeya.

These three projects were part of the national project to restore the route of the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt. This year, we will announce the completion of the path. 

By the way, I am very optimistic about religious tourism, and not only the Holy Family’s route, but other Christian monuments, the Jewish Synagogue, and Al-Azhar.

I am feeling optimistic about spiritual tourism. I think it is time to reap the fruits of our religious institutions and heritage.


How can Egypt take advantage of modern technology to support tourism in Egypt?

Our new projects will not lack modern technological means. For example, we are thinking of establishing a hologram in the GEM, the NMEC, the Avenue of Sphinxes in Luxor, and St. Catherine’s visitor centres to inform visitors about the history of the location and what happened there.

But the idea of implementing this project is financially difficult, as the cost ranges between EGP 40-50m, so the solution is to implement it through a partnership with the private sector.

Additionally, the ministry is working on creating a unified electronic portal for yacht tourism during the coming period, and preparations are also underway to create a pilgrimage portal such as the Umrah portal that was created.

As we speak, we have 10 digital transformation projects that will be completed by February and March.


Do you intend to increase the prices of entry tickets to museums and archaeological sites?

The increase in ticket prices for archaeological sites and museums has been postponed many times since last year, however, it will be increased slightly from the beginning of May. Also, entry for Egyptians over the age of 60, students, and people with disabilities will be free.

It is worth noting that this increase is within the framework of a plan that we set over 3-4 years ago in order to reach reasonable prices commensurate with the pound flotation that happened in 2016. So, tourists will not feel this small difference in the tickets’ prices.


According to the decree of setting minimum accommodation prices, the minimum price for accommodations for an individual per night is set at $40 in five-star hotels and $28 or its equivalent in four-star hotels, are there any expected increase in these prices in 2022?

Yes, it will also be increased starting from 1 May in South Sinai and the Red Sea only, and the prices will be as follows:

5-star, 4-star, and 3-star hotels will cost $50, $40, and $30, respectively.

As for the prices of hotels in Luxor, Aswan, and Taba, they will not rise in May, however they will increase by the beginning of November.


What are the ministry’s preparations to capitalise on the COP 27 in promoting tourism?

Let me say first that I am very happy with choosing Egypt and Sharm El-Sheikh specifically to host this event, which will be one of the biggest events that Egypt is hosting in the current period.

Tourism is the biggest beneficiary from organising this conference, and it is a message to the whole world that we have certainty of interest in the field of eco-tourism and green and sustainable tourism.

The president held a meeting with the government more than a month ago and assigned the whole government to work on the preparations, forming a higher committee headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly to monitor its progress.

Our role as the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is to provide the necessary hotel capacity, raising the efficiency of hotel facilities, providing the number of suites needed for the coming VIPs, making all tourist facilities ready, promoting the event, and converting tourist and hotel facilities into environmentally friendly facilities.

The most important and dangerous priority we are working on is the completion of delayed projects in Sharm El-Sheikh.

We are in coordination between the government and the Central Bank of Egypt to provide initiatives to support hotel facilities in Sharm El-Sheikh so that we can finish projects that have been stalled for a long time.

We are also planning to hold an antiquities exhibition on the side-lines of the COP 27 in front of all the presidents and kings of the world at the Sharm El-Sheikh Museum or in the hall itself on how Egyptians respected the environment throughout history.


We have noticed after the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade, and the reopening of Luxor’s Avenue of Sphinxes that demand for cultural tourism has increased. Do you expect this momentum to continue, especially after the inauguration of the GEM?

Yes, of course it will increase. I want to mention that the world has now become more aware and familiar of Saqqara due to the fantastic discoveries that have been made there and the wide coverage from Egyptian and international media.

Also, Egypt now has — for the first time — a domestic flight between Sharm El-Sheikh and Luxor, and we are planning with the increase of tourism activity to increase the frequency of flights and to make flights between Hurghada and Aswan, Marsa Allam and Luxor, and Al-Alamein and Luxor available.


Are there any high-profile events like the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade that we can expect in the coming period other than the highly anticipated inauguration of the GEM?

Yes, a major tourist and archaeological event is underway in St. Catherine with the aim of making it a tourist destination, a natural reserve, and an environmentally friendly world heritage site aiming to attract thousands of tourists throughout the year.

The St. Catherine event will impress all Egyptians and foreigners, and there is a development plan that the ministry has prioritised to stimulate tourism in the St. Catherine region.


Are there any planned archaeological reveals this year?

Yes, we will announce a new archaeological discovery in Saqqara by March or May. The discovery was unearthed by a mission headed by Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri.

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