A group of Chinese tourists pose for a photo in front of the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, in August 2018. An increasing number of Chinese tourists have been visiting Egypt. (Photo: Xinhua)
CAIRO-More Chinese tourists are expected to visit Egypt in the coming years as ties between the two countries continue to grow stronger, says Shi Yuewen, the Chinese cultural counselor to Egypt.
"Nearly half a million Chinese tourists visited Egypt in 2018 compared with only 300,000 in 2017, which is a big leap," says Shi. And he expects the number of Chinese visitors to exceed 500,000 in 2019.
Egypt's continuing efforts to enhance stability and eliminate terrorism especially at heritage sites will encourage more Chinese to visit the country, says Shi.
Egypt netted $6.1 billion in tourism revenues in 2015, a drastic decline from $12.5 billion in 2010, according to the official statistics agency. One of the world's most ancient civilizations, Egypt has been working hard to uncover and preserve its archaeological heritage across the country while organizing conferences abroad to promote its ancient heritage.
And it is also striving to revive its ailing tourism sector which has been suffering an acute recession over the past few years due to political turmoil and security issues.
Describing Egypt as a "very important tourism country", Shi encouraged the Egyptian government to provide more support for the tourism sector.
"I hope the Egyptian government will hold more international promotional conferences and salons to help the tourism sector revive," he says.
"Chinese tourists adore Egyptian monuments, and Egyptian archeological sites are well-known to the Chinese who have a similarly ancient civilization," Shi adds.
He also says that China and Egypt have held official discussions about organizing a tourism exhibition in Beijing.
"I hope we can see the launch of a pharaonic expo in China soon, like the one of the renowned Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun," the Chinese diplomat says.
Ties between Egypt and China have been growing rapidly over the past few years with the support of the political leaderships from both sides, which led to the elevation of bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership in late 2014.
The archaeological sector is important to the two countries' cooperation as it will boost tourism, Shi says.
In November 2017, the first Chinese archaeological team in Egypt started excavation work at Montu Temple in the Karnak Temple Complex of the monument-rich southern city of Luxor.
Meanwhile, Shi says that a Chinese Excavation Center will be established in Luxor.
"We are now in the process of sending the request to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to aid us in completing the procedures for setting up the center," he says.