By Sanjay Kumar
New Delhi, Apr.21 : Two ancient civilizations seeking new moorings and contact in the modern context.
How many people and what was the volume of trade between ancient Egypt and the Harrapan civilization is not certain, but what is certain is the number of Indian tourists visiting Egypt every year is almost 100,000.
If a plan presented by Egyptian Tourism Counsellor in India, Samy Mahmoud, is anything to go by, then Egypt is planning to double its tourist intake from India by 2010.
After making a presentation at the 15th edition of the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) here, Mahmoud told ANI that: "The Indian economy is growing very fast. Its growth is almost about nine percent annually, and the middle class is growing very fast and at least one million Indians travel abroad every year" when asked about the reason for so much interest in India.
Egypt, he said, has organized several cultural and road shows in major Indian cities to convince Indians to make a trip to the land of the pharaohs and pyramids.
Realizing the importance of Bollywood as a major avenue for endorsing Egypt as a popular tourism destination, the Government of Egypt has appointed actress and model Celina Jaitly as its brand ambassador.
Recently Katrina Kaif was in Egypt to shoot for her film. Egypt is providing locational assistance to the Indian film industry in the hope that it could attract Indian fans as tourists.
The Egyptian Government has also invited Amitabh Bachhan to be its guest next month, an offer the superstar has accepted.
"Indian people are crazy about Bollywood and all of them want to know bout stars and actors and news about them. We chose Celina as brand ambassador, and I think Amitabh is a big guy and he loves Egypt," said Mahmoud.
Mahmoud claims that visiting and staying in Egypt is cheaper than holidaying in Goa.
"One week in Egypt includes meal, sightseeing, airfare -all in 45,000 rupees", said Mahmoud.