Building fever grips Greece as tourism booms

by Hélène COLLIOPOULOU Agence France-Presse PAROS, Greece (AFP) — It’s early morning in the picturesque village of Naoussa on the Greek island of Paros, and jackhammers are already echoing as locals ready for what they hope will be a record tourist season. After two bad years because of the pandemic, tourist numbers bounced back spectacularly last year, and this summer the Aegean island hopes to do even better. Construction sites are abuzz all over the […]

Smiley, dimpled sphinx statue unearthed in Egypt

Cairo, Egypt (AFP) — Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed a sphinx statue “with a smiley face and two dimples” near the Hathor Temple, one of the country’s best preserved ancient sites, the tourism and antiquities ministry announced Monday. It is the latest in a series of discoveries revealed over the past few months. The limestone artefact, believed to be a stylised representation of an ancient Roman emperor, was found inside a two-level tomb near the […]

Egypt unveils hidden corridor in Giza pyramid

Cairo, Egypt (AFP) — Scientists have discovered a hidden passage inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid, the authorities announced on Thursday, part of a seven-year international research project. The passage is nine metres (30 feet) in length and more than two metres in width, the antiquities ministry said in a statement. Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Ahmed Issa told reporters at the ancient site in Giza also known as the Khufu, or Cheops, pyramid, that the “gabled […]

Wizz Air suspend flights to Moldova amid security concerns

CHISINAU, Moldova (AFP) — Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air announced Monday it would suspend all its flights to and from Moldova due to security concerns linked to growing tensions with Russia. “Due to recent developments and the high, though not imminent, risk in the country’s airspace, Wizz Air has taken the difficult but responsible decision to suspend all its flights to Chisinau as of March 14,” the group said in a statement. Moldova, a pro-European […]

Hidden Colombia canyon transformed from rebel route to tourist draw

LA URIBE, Colombia (AFP) — For years, the crystal clear river flowing between giant boulders served as a strategic guerilla route in Colombia’s bloody armed conflict. But today tourists bob happily down it in multi-colored inflatables, accompanied by birdsong and the rush of water. The Guape Canyon, a 35-meter (115-foot) deep natural wonder in the town of La Uribe in the southern Meta department, was hidden for decades by the fighting between Bogota and the […]

Machu Picchu reopens 25 days after Peru protests forced closure

Peru (AFP) — The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru’s tourist jewel, reopened to visitors on Wednesday, 25 days after it closed due to demonstrations that have shaken the country since last December. The first groups of tourists could be seen entering the archaeological park early in the morning, taking advantage of an unusually sunny day as they toured the different sites and sacred temples that make up the “llaqta” (“citadel” in Quechua). Some 700 […]

Iran woos Chinese, other tourists as Westerners stay away

by Ahmad Parhizi and Jerome Rivet Agence France-Presse Tehran, Iran (AFP) — Western tourists, who flocked to Iran just a few years ago, are being advised by their governments to stay away, forcing the Islamic republic’s struggling tourism industry to look elsewhere. Hoping for better days, tourism professionals are wooing visitors from countries like China and Russia which maintain good ties with Iran. Westerners have long been attracted to Iran’s many ancient and Islamic sites, […]

Boeing celebrates 747 at final commercial delivery of ‘jumbo jet’

by Jason REDMOND with Juliette MICHEL in New York Agence France-Presse EVERETT, United States (AFP) — Boeing marked its final commercial delivery of the 747, “the Queen of the Skies” on Tuesday at a ceremony commemorating an aircraft that democratized flying and serves US presidents. Thousands of current and former employees, celebrities and aviation industry brass converged on Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, in the Northwestern part of the United States, a factory built for […]

Tourists surge back to Jordan’s desert marvel Petra

by Mussa Hattar Agence France Presse Petra, Jordan (AFP) — Tending to his camels in Petra, Jordan’s spectacular archaeological marvel hidden deep in a desert canyon, Hussein Bdoul is all smiles: the tourists are back. After years in which the Covid pandemic turned the storied “Rose City” into a ghost town, the father of seven is back at work, offering visitors rides on his decorated animals. “Tourism has returned and the numbers are even greater,” […]

Researchers dig up secrets of ‘self-healing’ Roman concrete

by Chris Lefkow Agence France Presse Washington, United States (AFP) — How have Rome’s ancient aqueducts and architectural marvels such as the Pantheon, which features the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, endured the test of time? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other institutions believe they have uncovered the mystery of the durability of the 2,000-year-old structures — self-healing concrete. The secret lies in an ingredient of the ancient concrete used by […]

‘More the merrier’: Asia tourist hubs ready for China influx

by Sara HUSSEIN / Tomohiro OSAKI Agence France-Presse TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — In Tokyo’s Asakusa tourist district, caricaturist Masashi Higashitani is dusting off his Chinese as he prepares for an influx of travelers after Beijing ends inbound quarantine rules. “We used to say ‘ni hao’ all the time,” he said with a laugh as he whipped up a portrait in minutes. Nearly 9.6 million Chinese visited Japan in 2019, the biggest group of foreign tourists […]

To strengthen ties, ancient Maya gifted neighbors a spider monkey

by Issam AHMED Agence France Presse Washington, United States (AFP) — Seventeen hundred years ago, a female spider monkey was presented as a treasured gift — and later brutally sacrificed — to strengthen ties between two major powers of pre-Hispanic America, according to a new study. The paper, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), compared the offering by Maya elites to Teotihuacan to China’s panda diplomacy that accompanied the […]