Cairo, Feb 6 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Egypt is suffering revenue losses from lack of tourists even as the country tries to return to normal life after two weeks of protests aimed at ousting President Hosni Mubarak.
Stores, banks and businesses began opening on the first working day of the week, but souvenir shops and the main tourist attractions remained closed.
Police have returned to the streets after many days to regulate traffic in Cairo. Soldiers are everywhere — near the capital’s main square, Egypt’s Central Bank, universities and tourist attractions.
Cairo’s notorious traffic jams returned as people made their way to work Sunday morning.
The main tourist attraction — the pyramids in Giza to the west of Cairo — is heavily fortified with military and police, and entrance to the site is practically impossible.
Where usually hundreds or even thousands of tourists gather, only RIA Novosti’s news crew of four was to be found.
The herds of camels, which normally roam near the pyramids as tourist attractions, have been penned up in a corral. The road to the Sphinx has been barricaded by police.
Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said earlier that the situation in Egyptian cities was returning to normal. “The security situation is improving every day,” he said.
In the first days of unrest, 80 percent of the nightclubs in Cairo were scorched or burned to the ground by religious radicals, who vowed to erase “Western footprints” and return to a more “Arab lifestyle”.
After marches began Jan 25, American fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken closed their doors fearing attacks. On Sunday, they opened for business.
Hotels are practically empty, with only about 25 percent of their rooms booked.
More than 300 people have been killed in violence throughout the country, with the largest mass gatherings seen in capital Cairo.
The situation at Tahrir Square, the hub of the Cairo protests, has improved.
The estimate number of protesters still there is now estimated at 6,000 to 8,000. Mubarak critics have said nearly one million will rally Sunday.