More than just the pyramids...
One of the oldest vacation spots of the world, Egypt even today ranks near the top of a tourist's "must visit" places.From the early Greeks and Romans to today's modern, inveterate globetrotters, tourists from every day and age have found something in the historic land to satisfy them. Egypt is probably the world's oldest civilisation having emerged from the Nile Valley around 3,100 years ago. But Egypt is much more than pyramids and monuments. It is also Red Sea scuba diving, hot night spots, luxury hotels and five star restaurants. It is romantic cruises down the Nile on festive river boats, a night at the grand opera and a unique cultural experience. Egypt is a land bustling with life, sound, visual beauty and excitement. Today, Egypt welcomes more than 500,000 tourists a month and the government has given high priority to the development of the country's second most important source of foreign currency. "Tourism figures prominently among the priorities of the Egyptian government, not only as the second most important source of foreign currency and a major job generating industry characterised by its multiplier effects on the various economic sectors, but also as a major tool for strengthening international understanding and consolidating peace among different peoples of the world," says Tourism Minister Dr Mamdouh El-Beltagui. He said the country's lodging capacity was being constantly upgraded "in order to meet the increasing demand on Egypt as a tourist destination". According to the latest official statistics, 504,000 people visited Egypt in April staying in average 7.4 nights each. Total tourist nights reached 3.282 million in April, according to the statistics issued by Egypt's central bank. A building boom is currently on in the country's latest resort destinations at Sharm El Sheikh in the picturesque Sinai area with every major international hotel group vying to install bigger and better facilities. Sharm El Sheikh as well as Hurghada on the Red Sea have become major drawcards for water sports enthusiasts from Europe. "Egypt could be said to have six different tourist super-sites. Each has its own flavour, and mostly each serves a different purpose," says the country's tourism authority. "Surprisingly, or perhaps not, most of these tourist areas do not depend on ancient monuments to sustain them. In fact, only Luxor is completely dependent on this trade." These super-sites, according to a tourism official are: