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Egyptian bazaar owners block road to historic sites in Luxor

Amid declining tourist numbers, cash-strapped bazaar owners in Luxor block roads to Valley of Kings, Hatshepsut Temple to demand rent exemptions

Ahram Online, Sunday 3 Mar 2013
Luxor bazars
(Photo:Al-Ahram)
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Bazaar owners in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor on Sunday cut off the main road leading to the Valley of the Kings and the Hatshepsut Temple – both of which represent major tourist attractions – to demand exemptions from the rent they pay for their shops.

The bazaar owners' action brought the movement of tour busses to a halt, leading several tourist agencies to cancel scheduled trips to the two historical sites.

Tourism workers in Luxor have seen their income deteriorate sharply in recent months due to ongoing political instability countrywide. Egypt's tourism sector received another blow last week after 18 foreign tourists were killed in a hot air balloon accident in Luxor.

Bazaar owners, who rent their shops from Egypt's antiquities ministry, threatened shut down the city's historic sites for three days until their demands were met.

"Shop rents range from LE400 to LE4500 per month," Bakry Abdel Gelil, head of the Luxor Bazaar Owners Association, told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website. "How do they expect us to pay this amount given the current dearth of tourists?"

The antiquities ministry on Sunday announced that it planned to tie shop rents to tourist inflows in each district in hopes of easing pressure on bazaar owners.

"We will restructure the rent structure for bazaars in Luxor to accommodate sharp declines in tourism revenue," Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim stated on Sunday. "This way we hope to ease the financial burden on bazaar owners until tourism picks up again."

Despite the minister's statement, however, shop owners refused to open the road.

"They don't trust the government's promises; they want action," Al-Ahram's reporter in Luxor Iman El-Hawary said. "Some of these shop owners risk going to jail because they were late paying rent. They have received promises before, but these promises weren't kept."

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Chris Burden
22-03-2013 06:46pm
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A Dream Destroyed
For more than 20 years I have dreamed of visiting the Valley of the Kings, after saving up I travelled to Egypt arriving in Luxor on the 3rd of March only to be told, sorry you cannot visit the Valley of the Kings as the road is blocked. How do I feel? Devastated! Back in the UK now with health deteriorating, I don't think I will ever manage the trip again. Thank you for ruining my dreams!
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expat
12-03-2013 08:57pm
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F.Y.I
well,its funny,to think even under this circumstances and with a sheriff acting so professional,to reach even 50% of mubharak times numbers here again..its in reality 30% max over the year during the last two years,plus an forecast of under 10% for may,start of low season,after europe eastern,the whole blokes of the museltughs and gamaa can play without tourists,thats the truth
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Syed
04-03-2013 05:46pm
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Tourism will hurt even more
Blocking off the road leading to the major attractions will just hurt tourism even more. Who will come from Cairo or from elsewhere to Luxor if they find out that they cannot have access to the main attractions? I can understand and sympathize with the Egyptian people at the decline of tourism, but the people are bringing it upon themselves with such protests that deter tourists from planning to visit Egypt.
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sally
05-03-2013 03:37am
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Tour guides
I can understand their plight. It is also true that many tour guided and operators by pass local bazaars deliberately telling the tourists that they will be ripped off, then they take them to one big papyrus shop where they get mega ripped off. i have been living in Luxor and it is tragic to sometimes see hundreds of tourists told not to go to certain places especially when the owners are paying a premium already to be close to the attractions.
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Art is Love
04-03-2013 09:38am
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not so black and white
Let's not forget that these people are paralyzed without tourism. They can't just wave and start doing something else instead, their whole lives are invested in tourism. The government is the biggest concern, with a normally ran government people wouldn't protest, why would they? It's not their hobby to mess up their homeland even more! Think a bit before you talk please! In the transition period Egypt was doing much better than ever since MB rule... this is the example that the problem is not with protesters but with a higher level... If all you saw in your own home that NOTHING worked, life was getting more and more out of control would you sit at home? These people love their country and are desperate, the whole situation is new to them, how you expect them to behave? It's so easy to say the should's and would's from a safe distance...
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Syed
04-03-2013 03:46am
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Tourism will hurt even more
Blocking off the road leading to the major attractions will just hurt tourism even more. Who will come from Cairo or from elsewhere to Luxor if they find out that they cannot have access to the main attractions? I can understand and sympathize with the Egyptian people at the decline of tourism, but the people are bringing it upon themselves with such protests that deter tourists from planning to visit Egypt.
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Roslyn Ann
04-03-2013 01:16am
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The regime is totally to blame!
The entire blame rests with the regime, totally! They are the ones in power who are supposedly controlling the country! The regime's total lack of plan or vision meant that none of the demands of the revolution were never met, furthermore they are now destroying tourism along with the state! The protestors would not be sleeping in the streets and risking their lives, if the government was a success! Tourists and investors would be flooding back to Egypt and we would all be surrounded by positive rather than negative images. If this isn't enough, we have the 'unofficial' formation of the 'virtue and vice' police, this made international headlines, not to mention the safety of any form of transport from balloons to trains! Does anyone honestly think any of these things 'promote' tourists? Morsi should have spoken and acted, as soon as the virtue and vice group made their press conference. His silence on everything is infuriating and setting the streets on fire! Now we are all paying the
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Tammy
03-03-2013 08:22pm
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no tourism
morsi & his brotherthugs are the cause of the steep decline of tourism. as long as radical islamists are in power in Egypt there will be no tourism, who wants to visit a country where religious freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of speech & basic human rights are all a violated & offend the current dictatorial islamist regime & people are jailed, tortured & killed..no one in their right sane mind wants to visit a country where they are afraid to say or do anything because its open hunting season on anyone with a thought or idea that is opposite to sharia or the current government. the people of Egypt had a better life when Mubarak was in charge!!
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Barb
04-03-2013 11:18am
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Freedom
As a resident of Luxor for the past 4 years I can honestly say that there has been absolutely no change in the freedom of the people of Luxor or tourists. There are no human rights violations and there is certainly no need to be afraid to come to Luxor for a holiday. The people of Luxor NEED tourists to earn a living as there is virtually no other form of income. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider coming to SAFE, PEACEFUL and CALM Luxor for a holiday.
Ali
03-03-2013 11:31pm
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"We will be greeted as Liberators". Dick Cheney
Your whole Argumentation make no sense. It reads like a wishful thinking Hollywood script. Written by Thomas Friedman or Francis Fukuyama. I bet you believe in social evolution from Burka to Bikini too. You know nothing about sharia nor about arab History. You wished to see arab woman burning there Headscarfs on Tahrir and that it would -through some kind of secular "magic"- be the Beginning of Prosperity.
DT
03-03-2013 08:49pm
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protesters killing tourist industry
many friends of mine cancelled their trips to egypt because the only news they read about egypt is endless protests, ultras and violence. after all, we are just tourists. we are not policy makers and we don't care at all about the domestic politics in egypt. i only hope the current egyptian government to be stronger. instead of having no freedom of expression, i think those protesters are having too much. i understand that they have nothing to do, but to protest. but their actions are depriving the jobs of other egyptians, especially those who work in the tourist industry. they are killing egypt's tourism.
DT
03-03-2013 08:43pm
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protests, not the government is the real concern
I'm a tourist and have stayed in egypt for a week. i don't care at all who is running the egyptian government. but the protesters are causing a lot of problems, even though they might have a reason to protest. tahrir square is really ugly at the moment because the police are hesitant to take actions. similarly, the traffic is a mess due to ongoing occupying movements everywhere in cairo. now we are concerning about whether we can get to the airport on time due to the road block caused by football ultras.
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