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Booming tourism and the opening of a museum exhibition are
rarely mentioned in the same breath. But that’s the way it is these
days in Los Angeles.
There “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” has just
begun its five-month run at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
(LACMA). And what a kick-off it was a press conference that drew
journalists representing publications from all over the world; a
glittering pre-opening party for some 900 that including red-carpet
celebrities and paparazzi; an Egyptian-themed rooftop preview party
attended by some 800 guests; and perhaps more importantly, an
advance sale of 300,000 tickets at $30 a pop. Before the exhibit
closes on Nov. 15, attendance may well top one million.
Savvy travel agents will benefit from all the hoopla in
encouraging clients to consider Egypt as a destination or so
suggested His Excellency Ahmed El-Maghraby, minister of tourism for
the Arab Republic of Egypt.
“This exhibition will have a major impact on tourism to Egypt,”
he told TravelAge West, predicting a “major surge” in visitors from
the U.S. this year. U.S. arrivals could hit half a million after
the end of King Tut’s 27-month-long tour of the U.S., El-Maghraby
“Americans love antiquities,” he said with a smile.
Accommodations are ready for the increased demand, too,
according to El-Maghraby. Currently Egypt offers some 148,000 hotel
rooms up to international standards and new builds are pushing that
figure up to 160,000.
If the King Tut exhibition sounds like no other museum display
you’ve ever heard of, that’s because it is. For one thing, a main
objective is to make money with some of the proceeds going to help
underwrite more exploration in Egypt and the building of more
Zahi Hawass, secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of
Antiquities and National Geographic’s Explorer-in-Residence, hopes
to see $35 million for a variety of archeological and display
“No more free exhibits,” he smiled referring to the past
practice of Egypt loaning its priceless artifacts to American
museums without charge. “Now is the time to pay for your
The AEG, one of the world’s largest producers and promoters of
live events, is a key organizer of the Tut tour. Its experience in
putting on rock concerts and big-name Las Vegas shows is clearly
reflected in the high energy and super-hype involved in the
Quipped Timothy J. Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG: “Putting
on an exhibit like this is similar to a Rolling Stones concert or a
farewell tour by Cher.”
Other sponsors are National Geographic and Arts and Exhibitions
International and the Northern Trust Corporation.
All the excitement and attention generated by the opening of the
King Tut exhibition on June 16 essentially took local tourism
officials by surprise.
“We expected the King Tut exhibition to be a strong event for
the summer, but not the scope it has grown to be,” said Richard
Petersen, senior director, travel industry and tourism development
for LA Inc., the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We
are absolutely thrilled at the excitement and the attention given
not only to LACMA, but to our destination as a cultural
Petersen said LA Inc. estimates the local tourism industry will
enjoy as much as $170 million generated by visitors and locals for
hotel stays, restaurants, local transportation, souvenirs and
attendance at other area attractions.
“The Tut show will only spur new interest in the arts and
culture society that L.A. has to offer, but to other attractions as
well,” said Petersen. “We’re looking at the Tut exhibit as a
Following the close of its L.A. run, the 130-artifact exhibition
moves on to the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale opening in
December, then in May 2006 it opens at The Field Museum in Chicago
before winding down its U.S. tour at The Franklin Institute in
Philadelphia, in February 2007.
Four Points by Sheraton LAX: Deluxe
accommodations and daily parking from $129 per night weeknights and
$89 per night Friday through Sunday nights. (888-625-5144;
Holiday Inn LAX/South Bay: The King Tut
promotional offer includes 20 percent off published rates, plus
additional perks such as complimentary breakfast, airport shuttle
and parking. (800-315-2621, 310-676-1111; www.hiexpress.com)
Le Meridien at Beverly Hills: Nightly
promotional rates start at $219 per night at this luxury hotel
located five minutes from LACMA. (800-543-4300, 310-247-0400;
Luxe Hotel Sunset Blvd: King Tut Spa package at
$299 per night, includes deluxe accommodations, a complimentary
welcome glass of wine or cappuccino, two aromatherapy massages and
a morning newspaper. A room-only package starts at $149 per night.
(866-589-3411, 310-476-6571; www.luxehotelsunsetblvd.com)
Omni Los Angeles Hotel: Deluxe accommodations
for two with King Tut exhibit tickets from $179 per night.
(800-843-6664, 213-617-3300; www.omnihotels.com)
Renaissance Hollywood Hotel: Its nightly $269
promotional rate includes deluxe accommodations, valet parking and
two King Tut exhibit tickets. Ask for phone rate code: ECER or Web
code: PES. (800-627-7468, 323-856-1200;
Renaissance Montura Hotel, Los Angeles: At $199
per night, includes accommodations; authentic, Egyptian-style
cuisine for two; a hand-carved Egyptian welcome gift; and access to
tickets and transportation to the King Tut exhibit. Room-only
packages are available for $129 per night. (800-627-7468,
Sheraton Universal Hotel: On the lot at
Universal Studios Hollywood. Deluxe accommodations for two from
$199 per night, including two tickets to the King Tut exhibit.
(888-625-5144, 818-980-1212; www.sheraton.com)
Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel: In the San Fernando
Valley. Package starting at $177 per night includes a city view
room, hotel parking and two tickets to the King Tut exhibit. Guests
staying three nights receive a fourth night free. (800-821-8511,
Wilshire Grand Los Angeles: In downtown L.A.
Promotional rate of $119 per night includes accommodations for two
in an Executive Level room with Executive Club privileges and
overnight parking. (888-773-2888, 213-688-7777;
“It’s unbelievable,” said Bowers Museum president Peter Keller.
“The response to this exhibition has been overwhelming. It’s truly
one of the most spectacular exhibitions we’ve ever had and we
anticipate more and more people coming to see it.”
Mummies: Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt features 140
objects, including 14 mummies and/or coffins, and is the largest
exhibition of its kind to be shown by the British Museum outside of
Britain. The exhibition focuses on embalming, coffins, sarcophagi,
shabti figures, magic and ritual, amulets, papyri, as well as the
process of mummification. In the other words, all the cool, gory
details we want to know!
Special group discount rates, are available.
E-mail: [email protected]