efe-epaLuxor (Egypt)

In an attempt to revive tourism, Egypt has announced the discovery of new Pharaonic tombs in the southern ancient city of Luxor and is restoring other monuments, the director of the local department of antiquities told EFE on Tuesday.

In an interview, Mostafa Waziri said the opening of new tombs and attractions encourages tourists who have previously visited Luxor to return.

Waziri works with the provincial government of Luxor to prepare the city for the winter tourist season, which usually experiences the highest number of tourists in the Nile valley due to the high temperatures in summer.

"Tourism promotion is not the Ministry of Antiquities' main role, but it does so mainly by opening new archaeological sites and preparing our tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Luxor's West Bank," Waziri said.

On Saturday, the Egyptian Antiquities Minister, Khaled al-Anani, accompanied by Waziri, announced in Luxor the discovery of the tomb of Amenemhat, who lived in the Pharaonic dynasty XVIII.

In addition, a mission of Egyptian archaeologists discovered an almost intact tomb of a mayor of ancient Luxor (used to be called Thebes), called Userhat, from the same dynasty (1,550-1,295 BC), in which there were eight mummies.

These discoveries "help revive tourism," according to Waziri, who promised that the tomb of Amenemhat would not be the season's last discovery.

The local department of antiquities is restoring Egypt's famous temples of Luxor and Karnak.

In the Valley of the Kings, Egypt's largest necropolis containing up to 64 tombs of pharaohs, the restorers are lighting up six of them and are preparing to reopen the tomb of Ramesses III of the dynasty XX (1,186-1069 BC ) before visitors.

"The tomb of Ramesses III is opening soon. It is still a work in progress but it will be done in a few days. I think it will surely help when we announce its opening," the official told EFE.

The main objective is to get those tourists who are passionate about Egyptology to return to the country "to see something new," said Waziri.

Tourism was one of the main economic sectors in Egypt and represented around 11.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and helped bring a quarter of the foreign currency reserve into the country before the revolution of 2011.

Violence and political instability in the years following the popular revolt scared away the 14.7 million tourists who visited the country in 2010, marking a record number.

Last year, 4.5 million people visited Egypt, attracted mainly by the Pharaonic wonders and the beaches of the Red Sea, less hit by the crisis than the archaeological sites located in the Nile Valley and Cairo.