Middle East

Egypt re-opens museums and sites to draw back tourists

Egypt has re-opened many of its museums and historical sites which had been closed since the civil uprising started in January.

Tourists visiting Cairo's Egyptian Museum, which houses Tutankhamun's golden death mask, were welcomed by staff with roses.

The museum stands on Tahrir Square, the focus of the unrest, and some artefacts were stolen or damaged.

The upheaval is said to have cost the tourism industry $800m (£500m).

The usually busy galleries of the Egyptian Museum were virtually deserted when doors opened on Sunday, Reuters news agency reports.

"It was very important for us to open the museum to stop the rumours like 'the mask of King Tutankhamun was stolen' or there had been an orgy of looting," said museum director Tarek El Awady.

"This is a chance for visitors to see for themselves."

One tourist, Dutch supermarket worker Sandra de Rooij, said she and others had ventured out after assurances from tour operators.

"We gambled, we didn't know the museum would be open," she added.

Canadian tourist Barbara Bonkowsky said she had been "determined to come and see the museum in a new Egypt", after the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak.