The eruption of the Arab-Israeli conflict into full-scale war in June 1967 severely hit the tourist industry of the U.
The eruption of the Arab-Israeli conflict into full-scale war in June 1967 severely hit the tourist industry of the U.A.R. Gradually the tourists are coming back and the current cease-fire while the Middle East peace talks go on has given many historical monuments close to it.
For centuries the Sphinx, the Pyramids and the ancient temples have been the main tourist attraction, their lure remains but in addition, the year-round sunshine has prompted an interest in outdoor sports and health-therapy.
Before 1967, the numbers visiting the UAR were rising every year and the opening of new hotels could hardly keep pace with the increase in tourists. The revenue from tourism was the third highest source after the Suez Canal and the cotton crop.
A number of measures have been taken recently to reduce formalities involving tourists. A Cairo Airport -- one of the world's key airway junctions -- procedures have been streamlined and GBP12 million (about 5 million Dollars) is being spent to adjust the airport to handle the new Jumbo jets.
Cairo itself still shows outward signs of a city at war: brick or sandbag barricades are in front of many doorways, sentries stand at street corners and most buildings have painted windows as a blackout against night-bombing.
There are, of course, certain zones prohibited to tourists and these are clearly zoned: this includes the Red Sea and many of the Mediterranean resorts east of Alexandria.
In spite of this there is still much to attract visitors: the wealth of shrines and sites of interest to Christian and Moslem pilgrims alike, for example.
Another sector that has been attracting large numbers of visitors is health therapy. The dry weather is said to be miraculous for rheumatism and the hot sand of the desert and the springs of mineral waters near Cairo have a long-established reputation in the treatment of rheumatic patients.
A tourist city is being erected on the plateau of the Giza Pyramids at the back of the three giant monuments. It will consist of bungalows, a desert garden, sports grounds, cafeterias, restaurants, etc... and will command one of the world's most famous views: the Pyramids with the surrounding desert and the valley underneath.
The industry is showing good signs of recovering from the 1967 slump, but will, for some time to come, vary with the state of tension in the Middle East conflict.