Tour operators unite to push Egypt message

Three Pharaohs At Karnak Temple, Egypt

By Sophie Griffiths,

Specialist Egypt tour operators have united to form a “quasi think-tank” in a bid to push the message out to the trade that the country is safe and open for business.

The group, which comprises tour operators such as Discover Egypt, Orbital Travel, Soliman Travel, Cyplon Holidays, Mosaic Holidays and Red Sea Holidays, is being been coordinated by the country’s flag carrier, EgyptAir.

“The idea is to see how we can all get the message out to the trade that the country is safe,” Discover Egypt’s commercial director Philip Breckner told TTG.

This week marks the third anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, which took place on January 25. The last Foreign Office travel restrictions for Luxor and Cairo were lifted in November 2013. Last month the FCO also lifted advice for middle Egypt, allowing cruises to sail along the Nile between Luxor and Cairo.

But Breckner said specialist operators were still struggling to encourage agents and clients to realise that the country remains open for business.

“There haven’t been any Foreign Office restrictions [for the areas we visit] in Egypt for 15 months. Egyptian locals can’t understand why the tourists aren’t coming,” he said.

“No one can give you a 100% safety guarantee for wherever you are, but the difference is that on a tour, you’re escorted and the tour wouldn’t go ahead if it wasn’t safe. All good tour operators go above and beyond FCO advice, and also consult Egyptian authorities on the ground.

“As tour operators, we need to be doing more to educate the trade about the situation in the country.”

“The trade should never close their doors on a destination, because everywhere is going to go through something at some point”

Gemma Antrobus, Haslemere Travel

Gemma Antrobus, managing director of Surrey-based Haslemere Travel, said agents should also be taking on the responsibility of educating consumers about Egypt. “We used to do a substantial amount of business to classical Egypt,” she said. “It used to be a good seller, but it dropped off after the revolution.

“It is our responsibility as travel agents to educate clients that it is still safe to travel there, and if agents feel uncertain about a destination, then it’s their role to educate themselves about it – it also shows consumers why it’s best to book with a travel agent, because we can answer any concerns that they have.

“The trade should never close their doors on a destination, because everywhere is going to go through something at some point.”

Meanwhile, Breckner conceded that the press attention surrounding Islamic State militants in the Middle East and the recent terrorist attack in Paris would likely have an impact on people’s perceptions of Egypt. However, he insisted that numbers to the classical sites were “creeping up”.

“We are taking double the bookings this month that we were taking last January, but we are still a long way from the peak of 2010. We’re also seeing an increase in demand for business for 2016.”

He also said that there still remained an issue surrounding prices. “People expect it to be much cheaper, but it’s a region that is trying to recover. There’s no point in offering cheap cruises because low prices typically lead to poor service.”

Breckner added that Discover Egypt was also offering fam trips to any agents requesting them, either as solo trips or part of a bigger group.

Sourced by TTG Digital

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