The Egyptian ministry of tourism always sees the glass "half full." The number of visitors is up from last year, etc. Talk to a few people in the industry, however, and you find that most of the visitors are coming on an "all-inclusive" low budget ticket. Perhaps $500 will get you a flight, a hotel room and meals for a week in Sharm-el-Sheik on the Red Sea if you are in Russia or Poland. These people don't hire guides or buy a lot of souvenirs to take home.
But there is a growing profitable segment. The Chinese. Many have money and are traveling to this exotic destination. Egypt estimates that 200,000 will visit Egypt by the end of 2015.
And just about every one of them will be stopping at the several souvenir shops down the street from us to buy papyrus paintings, perfume and other trinkets. Here is the typical scene in front of the shops on a busy afternoon. I counted seven buses and vans.
Too bad that street isn't paved - they finished the freeway about six years ago but haven't gotten around to finishing the frontage road. But today, what do we see alongside the buses? Paving machinery.
We inquired. The shops went right to the top, writing a letter to President Sisi pointing out the bad image this road presented to the many tourists. Most tourists travel this street since it is a direct route to Memphis and Sakkara, two must see sites on any tourist's itinerary. And, now we have action. No wonder a lot of people are happier with the new administration.
With some new pavement down, the drivers can start to be more innovative too. At this corner, most of the Northbound drivers want to turn left - as do the Southbound. Now it is easier to just "swap lanes" and put your car over on the left side of the road well ahead of time. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Always pay attention!