CAIRO: Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh el-Damaty inaugurated Saturday the second phase of construction work of the Sharm el-Sheikh Museum, which will open mid-2015, Youm7 reported.
During his inspection visit to the Red Sea Resort in Sharm el-Sheikh Saturday, Damaty met with the museum construction operators and discussed ways to accelerate work and the possibility to complete it in June 2015.
“Since it is the only archaeological attraction in Sharm el-Sheikh, the museum will positively impact tourism in the Sinai Peninsula,” Damaty said.
The garden outside the museum will be used as an entertainment area featuring Egyptian cuisine restaurants, visitors’ center, conference hall, library, bookstore, and cafeterias. The garden will also feature an open-air museum with carefully selected artifacts dating back to different periods from ancient Egyptian history, Damaty added.
Feasibility studies of the museum were completed in January 2006 and the construction of its first phase was completed in September 2009, head of the Ministry of Tourism’s museums sector Ahmed Asharaf told The Cairo Post.
The construction work was suspended following the January 25 Revolution in 2011.
“The construction of the museum’s main building, which includes 24 exhibition halls, administrative structures, and over 20 gift shops and bookstores, was completed through its first phase,” Ashraf said and that over 7,000 carefully selected artifacts will be displayed.
Head of the Antiquities Ministry’s restored artifacts department Ali Ahmed said several repatriated artifacts, including some exhibited in the Egyptian Museum, will be transferred and on display at the Sharm el-Sheikh Museum, Al-Ahram reported.
Egypt’s political turmoil during the past three years and its consequent violent clashes have kept tourists from visiting Egypt, and some European countries including Germany, China, and Russia, have even announced travel bans. Many countries lifted their travel bans in January and Egyptian tour operators are optimistic for a better high season starting in October.
Chairman of a leading Egyptian travel agency Amr Badr told The Cairo Post that his optimism is based on the number of confirmed bookings that his company received for the period of October 2014 to April 2015.
“It will take time for the numbers of tourists to Egypt to climb back to anywhere near the 2010 statistics but two out of five Nile cruises will be fully booked during Christmas, which is a good sign,” Badr said.
He attributed the improvement of bookings to the “successful” security crackdowns and the notable decrease of street protests in the past few weeks.
Tourism is an important source of foreign currency for Egypt, alongside revenues from the Suez Canal and remittances of Egyptians living abroad, according to the Central Bank of Egypt.
According to the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, tourist activity comprises 11.3% of GDP.