Increasing harassment of white tourists at the Giza pyramid site outside Cairo may soon lead to the Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Ahmed Eissa closing the entire site to visitors to prevent further damage, Egyptian media has reported.
The situation near the Giza Pyramids came to a head last month when the US embassy in Egypt issued a message telling American citizens to “elevate their situational awareness when traveling to the pyramids, avoid any late evening or night travel, utilize a recommended or trusted guide, and closely guard valuables.”
The embassy said there have been increasing incidents of aggressive vendors and people pounding on vehicles, frightening tourists.
“A common theme from many of these reports is the lack of visible security or police in the vicinity of the pyramids,” the embassy message read.
Eissa has announced the formation of a committee with representatives from the ministries of state for antiquities, interior, and tourism as well as representatives of civil society organizations and the Giza governorate.
“When someone says that there is an encroachment on the pyramids or that there is a problem in the area nearby, then the whole country is in very bad condition. This means that tourists will not be able to come or will not agree to come,” Eissa said.
He added that there are problems in the Antiquities Ministry, however, he said, the largest problem relates to the people in the area surrounding the pyramids.
The State-run Al-Ahram TV reported that Eissa warned that if things continue to run in this manner, he will close off the area to visitors.
The Giza plateau has been desecrated by vendors, peddlers, horse and camel owners who, in violation of the law, entered the archaeological safe zone hoping to reach more clients.
Aggressive parking attendants pound vehicles at the plateau entrance and demand money to park them, frightening tourists.
“The whole site became chaotic,” Anita Diaglo, an Italian tour guide was quoted as saying. She recounts that during her last tour with a group of ten Italians, thugs sexually harassed one of the tourists and ran away before they could catch them.
“The tourist had a nervous breakdown. It was a scandal,” said Diaglo, adding that they called the tourism and antiquities police unit in the plateau, but they did nothing.