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Egypt Opens Ancient Tombs Amid Plane Crash Controversy

  • Heather Murdock

The Egyptian government this week unveiled three ancient pharaonic tombs for the first time since they were discovered - as it struggles to re-build its sagging tourism industry. But tourists still say they are on edge after a plane crashed last weekend over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

Egyptians say if you want to find ancient treasures in Luxor, all you have to do is start digging. And the digging never stops.

The Egyptian government this week invited journalists to photograph three never-before-seen tombs of noblemen who died more than 3,000 years ago. Officials also re-opened two tombs that once held kings, after years of restoration work.

The story of King Horemheb seemed to celebrate an image the current Egyptian leadership likes to portray - a powerful, single ruler leading the country after years of political turmoil.

“He returned Egypt to great rule after the Amarna Period, which was a time of political weakness. So the strength of Egypt was returned,” said Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty.

But the nation's current strength is constantly being tested, and the tourism industry is reeling after a Russian plane crashed shortly following takeoff from Sharm el-Sheik - along with Luxor, one of Egypt’s most popular vacation spots.

Business has plummeted in recent years, and visitors in Luxor say they were nervous about traveling to Egypt.

“I had some doubts before I came but since all those doubts were based on media, I just felt like I had to come and see my self, and so far everything has been okay,” said Bart, a tourist from Holland.

Some countries are canceling flights to Sharm el-Sheik and several airlines have stopped flying over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Analysts say efforts in Luxor to renew interest in antiquities tourism has been overshadowed by the disaster.

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