Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany has said the inauguration of the long-dormant Baron Empain Palace is important for the country’s tourism sector.
El-Anany’s statements came during the inauguration of several national projects in presence of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and other high-level officials on Monday.
El-Anany described the once dilapidated palace’s reopening as confirmation that “Egypt does not forget its history.”
He added, “The concrete blocks of the palace before its development were destroyed, and was not open to visit.”
El-Anany explained that “the palace was converted into an exhibition of Heliopolis’s history,” and that a number of restaurants and cafes will be established in the open garden.
The palace had been inaugurated following two years of restoration work that took place in collaboration with the Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority and the Arab Contractors Company on a budget of more than EGP 100m.
It was built in 1911 and designated as a tourist destination as well as an exhibition of history.
El-Anany said that the country is currently bracing for the gradual resumption of tourism on Wednesday in three governorates under strict preventive measures.
He added that 400 hotels nationwide have received the necessary health and safety certificates to reopen and receive tourists at a reduced occupancy rate of 25%. The ministerpraised the support provided by the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) inproviding aid to one of the sectors most heavily hit by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
El-Anany mentioned that the construction cost of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza has been reduced from $1.6bn to only $700m, without compromising the quality. The minister said the museum, which is 90% complete, will be the largest cultural opening in 2021.