Cairo - The BBC's leading Egyptologist has called on the British public to continue visiting the land of the pharaohs after a sharp decline in tourist numbers to ancient sites following terror threats and political upheaval in the North African state.
Joann Fletcher, who recently concluded a year of filming in Egypt and Sudan for a new four-part BBC2 series, said she hoped the programme's revelations of “new discoveries” would “help bring tourists back”.
Egypt's tourism ministry revealed this month that visitor numbers had plummeted from 17 million to 9 million this year.
Current Foreign Office advice warns of “a high threat from terrorism” and advises against all travel to North Sinai and all but essential travel to South Sinai and west of the Nile Valley. Travel advice should be taken before visiting Giza or Luxor, home to the most important ancient sites. Professor Fletcher said: “I often get asked 'is it safe to go to Egypt?' and I say 'a weekend in Paris isn't exactly safe.' I would love for them to go out. None of us can guarantee our safety on planet earth - it all has to be put into context.”
The Yorkshire historian said she hoped the BBC project, Immortal Egypt with Joann Fletcher, which begins on 4 January, would “work hand in hand with the Egyptian authorities” in luring visitors back to the Pyramids and the Valley of the Kings.