Pyramid guides urge tourists to return to Egypt

Guides gathered in the shadow of the Sphinx to urge tourists to return.

Updated: Feb 15, 2011, 00:21 AM IST

Cairo: Hundreds of Egyptian tour guides
gathered Monday in the shadow of the Sphinx and the Great
Pyramids to urge tourists to return to the country following
the fall of Hosni Mubarak`s regime.

The upheaval of recent weeks and media coverage of
days of violent clashes have combined to scare off visitors
and stifle Egypt`s key tourism industry, threatening thousands
of jobs.

Inspired by the success of political protests in
bringing down the regime, workers in several public and
private sector industries have launched a wave of strikes to
demand pay rises.

But the message from tourism workers was simpler.
The guides -- whose business has been badly hit by the
crisis -- gathered at the Giza Plateau site, bearing Egyptian
flags and banners in English, French, Russian and German
reading: "Egypt loves you."

One by one, the guides mounted a tribune to plead for
tourists to return in a variety of languages.
Behind them a handful of Egyptian visitors were at the
site, but there were no foreigners to be seen and Cairo`s
hotels and gift shops stand empty.

"We need to make tourism come back to Egypt. We want
to send the message to tourists all over the world that they
are welcome here. They will discover a new country and new
people", said 27-year-old Hossam Khairy.

Khairy was one of the tens of thousands of protesters
who seized central Cairo`s Tahrir Square and occupied it for
two weeks as part of the nationwide demonstrations that bought
down Mubarak.