In recent years, Egypt's tourism has been adversely affected by a string of misfortunes, starting with the political instability that followed the 2011 revolution and -

And occasional bursts of terrorism, including attacks on tourists, bomb blasts that damaged prominent museums and a downed airliner that killed hundreds of Russian tourists.

On a cool morning late November, Egypt's tourism and antiquities minister stood in a packed tent at the vast necropolis of Saqqara just outside Cairo to reveal the ancient site's largest archaeological discovery of the year.

The giant trove included 100 wooden coffins - some containing mummies interred over 2,500 years ago - 40 statues, amulets, canopic jars and funerary masks.

The minister Khalid el-Enanay, said the latest findings hinted at the great potential of the ancient site and showcased the dedication of the all Egyptian team that had unearthed the gilded artifacts.

But he also singled out another reason the archaeological discoveries were crucial : They were a boon for tourism, which had been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

''This unique site is still hiding a lot,'' Mr. el-Enany said. ''The more discovery we make, the more interest is in this site and in Egypt worldwide.''

Egyptology is having a big moment : Archaeologists announced this month that they had unearthed an ancient Pharaonic city near the southern city of Luxor that dated back more than 3,400 years.

The discovery came just days after 22 royal mummies were moved to a new museum in a lavish spectacle that was broadcast worldwide. 

In addition, the discovery of 59 beautifully preserved sarcophagi in Saqqara is now the subject of a Netflix documentary; a bejewelled statue of the god Nefertum was found in Saqqara; the 4,700 year-old Djoser's Step Pyramid was reopened last year after-

After a 14-year, $6.8 million restoration; and progress is being made on the stunning Grand Egyptian Museum, which is scheduled to open sometime this year.

But the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the industry, and what had been expected to be a bonanza season became a bleak winter..

Tourism is a crucial part of Egypt's economy - international tourism revenues totaled $13 billion in 2019 - and the country has been eager to attract visitors to Egypt dropped by 69 percent in the first eight months of 2020 alone, while revenues plunged by 67 percent in the same period, according to the World Tourism Organization, a United Nations agency.

Now more than ever, tourism in Egypt is facing ''an unprecedented challenge,'' Zurab Pololikashvili, the organization's secretary general said in an email.

More mummies, few tourists.

The World Students Society thanks author Abdi Latif Dahir.


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