Spanish Iberia Airline flights will resume to Luxor, starting April 2020, returning Spanish tourism to the city after a 12-year suspension, said head of the Cultural Tourism Marketing Committee in Luxor Mohamed Othman.
In a statement on Friday, Othman said that Luxor Airport will receive four flights a week starting next April from the Spanish airline, adding that the resumption of flights was the result of intense efforts by tourism officials in Egypt, MENA reported.
He added that cultural tourism to Egypt has recently improved greatly, pointing out that the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum will also contribute to the recovery of Egypt’s tourism agency after years of political instability and flight suspensions to Egypt’s Red Sea resorts and other locations led to a drop in foreign visitors.
Upper Egypt’s Luxor, located on the east bank of the Nile River, was the site of ancient Thebes, the pharaohs’ during the 16th–11th centuries B.C. The area today is home to a number of archaeological sites, including the Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple.
A short ride away on the West Bank of the river is the Valley of the Kings, where tourists can explore the tomb of Tutankhamen, among others.
Also this week, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry announced it had begun implementing a plan to develop the Sphinx International Airport in Giza, which includes building a new passenger terminal next to the existing one.
Officials have said that the airport, which was opened last year, holds high touristic value because of its proximity to the Giza Pyramids.
Other airports have seen projects to develop security infrastructure. Last week, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that authorities at Egypt’s Marsa Alam International Airport had begun installing a new security scanning system at a cost of LE60 million. The new system, which includes a Computer Tomography X-ray (CTX), or an explosive detection device, will be in full operation before the year is up, according to the report.
Efforts have also been made to boost security at Egypt’s Hurghada International Airport. In late January 2019, a Russian security delegation charged with conducting an inspection tour of the airport praised beefed-up security measures taken in Terminal 2, which included the installation of an explosive detection device. The visit is part of the process for the resumption of regular charter flights from Russia to Egypt’s resorts along the Red Sea.
Tourists to the area fell in the last few years, a result of Russian and British flight bans after the 2015 bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt’s Sinai that killed over 200 people.
In December 2019, the first UK flight to Sharm el-Sheikh since the 2015 ban landed at Sharm El-Sheikh International airport, and low-cost airline EasyJet also announced that it would resume flights between the UK and Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh in June 2020.
Russia also suspended flights to Egypt following the airliner bombing, but in 2018, Russia’s largest airliner Aeroflot resumed flights to Cairo.
In an interview with the MENA News Agency, Batouti said that Egypt’s tourism sector has significantly recuperated, claiming 13 million tourists visited Egypt in 2019, up significantly from 7.5 million in 2017. He predicts 15 million people will visit Egypt in 2020.
He has said previously that the improvement is due to efforts by the political leadership to support the tourism industry and tighten security at airports across the country. A report from Reuters has also cited the flotation of the Egyptian pound in 2016, which reduced its value by half, as another attractive point for foreign visitors.
Image: Tourists make their way past statues inside Luxor Temple in Luxor, Egypt, on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Egypt ranked last in terms of security and safety on the World Economic Forum’s 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index. Photographer: Shawn Baldwin/Bloomberg