Recommend January 2014 - (Page 106)

africa/middleeast Egypt Update Tour operators are cautiously optimistic that Egypt will make a rebound in 2014. paloma villaverde de rico Elhamy ElZayat, chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation and one of the architects of the newly created Egyptian constitution, is feeling hopeful. Hopeful that if the nation's leaders stick to the "road map"-a plan for a referendum on changes to the constitution and for parliamentary and presidential elections by March-tourism from the U.S. will start flowing back into Egypt some time during Easter, and that the "real numbers will come back in the fall," he says. Those real numbers he mentions, well, he's hoping that they are very close to 2010 numbers, when the country welcomed 361,000 visitors from the U.S. Incidentally, this year's numbers were 127,000 for the first six months. With that in mind, we called up a few tour operators-well, most we actually had the chance to chat with during last month's 2013 USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace in Scottsdale-to find out about bookings and their thoughts on tourism to Egypt in 2014. Most of the tour operator principals we spoke with, in fact, were cautiously optimistic, and even more interesting, many of them actually told us-take note, agents-that now was the best time to send clients to Egypt because there are no crowds at the top tourism sites, and as most people who work in the travel industry know, it's actually a very safe destination. abercrombie & kent Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), says Rami Girgis, product manager, is committed to operating all its departures in 2014. In terms of 2013 bookings, he explains, "We had some luxury small group journeys operate in 2013 in the first half of the year and a few individuals traveling in the second part of the year." With offices in Cairo and Upper Egypt, A&K is continuously monitoring the situation and receives updates of what's happening on the ground, and they do keep their eye on the travel warnings that are in place. Girgis says that the company is waiting for the elections, and hopes that after that the situation will improve dramatically and trigger a tourism uptick. Recommend: As of press time, prices for the 10-day Egypt & the Nile package have been slashed by 50 percent with rates starting at $3,695 pp in March and April, and $3,495 pp in May. The itinerary includes a 4-night Nile River cruise; a visit to off-the-beatenpath Denderah; a ride on a camel in Giza; and visits to Memphis and the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser in Sakkara, as well as the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, among other offerings. (800) 5547016; 106 january 2014 106- 107 AFRICA.indd 106 cox & kings Scott Wiseman, president, the Americas, for Cox & Kings, says that many of the people who have continued to go to Egypt through the current situation are people with "peripheral ties to the travel industry and who hear that it's a wonderful place to visit, it's perfectly safe and there are no crowds." He adds that it's also the "tried and true traveler who is going back." He's optimistic that once Egypt comes back as the hot destination it's been in the past, "it will come back quickly." He notes that post-9/11, Americans realized that things could happen at home and this "has really changed their outlook and I think it's a positive experience. The more people travel and the more boomers take their kids, the more people are numb to it." That said, he stresses that Americans want "safety, security; they want to travel with brands that if something does go wrong, they have a way of getting them out of there. The travel professionals are actually the best at this," he emphasizes. "They are the validation to the client that it's okay to go and we trust this company. So having a good travel professional [recommending us] takes the pressure off of us." Recommend: Cox & Kings offers primarily custom journeys and one suggested itinerary for 2014 is the 9-day Highlights of Egypt private journey. It includes, among many inclusions, visiting the Great Pyramids at Giza with an Egyptologist; exploring the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; visiting the Temples of Ramses II above the banks of Lake Nasser; and a cruise down the Nile. January to April rates start at $4,585 pp. (800) 999-1758; or goway Goway decided to maintain its Egypt presence in its 2014 brochure, says Moira Smith, Goway's general manager, Africa & Middle East. "We haven't been actively promoting it, but we have been selling it, and as soon as we see the time is right, we will actively promote Egypt, because it's an important destination for us and I love it." In fact, she tells us enthusiastically, "One of my senior managers was in Egypt in June with his wife and he said it was both awe-inspiring and tragic because he was visiting the temples and the pyramids and it was almost as if they were on their own personal tour because there were no people. The tragedy is that so many Egyptians rely on tourists for their bread and butter, so it's certainly had a huge impact on them." She stresses that Goway has tremendous faith in the destination, 12/18/13 1:27 PM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend January 2014

Editor's Notes
Hotel Desk: Aloft Hotels
Tour Talk: Swain Destinations
Uniworld's Queen Isabel
Disney Magic
Delta Air Lines Travel Guide 2014
Egypt Update
Scandinavia Exposed
B Hotels & Resorts
What's New in Las Vegas

Recommend January 2014