A Salute to the Egyptian Tour Operators
By Jimmy Dunn
Having traveled with tour companies in Egypt on many occasions, it is clear to me how much effort these companies put into pleasing their clients. And it is also very evident that they care. While these tour operators have voice their sorrow and shock over the tragic events in the USA, they are also doing much more in a real effort to demonstrate their deep feelings for American tourists.
Because of airport closings for several days in the USA, and then only a gradual resumption of flights, many American tourists who's tours had ended and were scheduled to return home ended up stranded. It wasn't the American Embassy, or any other government aid that came to their rescue, but rather the Egyptian travel industry, and specifically the tour operators in Egypt. Often called ground operators in Egypt, these companies are footing the bill for additional accommodations and support of the American tourists who have been effected by the events in the USA until such time as the tourists are able to return home. They have embraced their American customers, and are providing more than lip service to the term, 'We Care'.
Tour operators in Egypt are a noble and old profession. In fact, Egyptian tour operators are the oldest representatives of that trade in the world. We often refer to them as ground operators because it is customary for foreign tour operators to contract with these ground operators for tour services once the tourist is on the ground in Egypt. However, many of the modern Egyptian tour operators have offices in various countries, including the USA, and therefore arrange tours from beginning to end. Back around the turn of the century, during simpler times, they were called dragomen. They were really only tour guides, who might also make a few arrangements for boats, camels and other services to facilitate a tour. Specific families, such as the Gabrys or Kataabs, were involved in the trade, and through the years, the trade has often been passed down from generation to generation. One will often find their tour guide named Gabry or Kataab even today.
But of course, the industry has changed, handling millions of tourists through sophisticated tour companies and modern facilities. Today, tour guides undertake rigorous training before they are allowed to practice their trade, and are considered some of the top professionals in Egypt. Logistic support most often dictates that the tour guide only conducts tours, while tour managers administrate the tour and make all the arrangements for guest services.
So we salute the Egyptian travel companies, both for their past and always present efforts, as well as their current contributions to the well being of American Tourists.
The Egyptian government is also doing its part to insure the safety and convenience of all tourists through the following measures:
Immediate application of increased security levels on public utilities all over Egypt monitored by the Egyptian Cabinet. These stepped up security procedures cover all airports, sea ports, roads, hotels and tourist establishments throughout Egypt.
The President of the Cairo International Airport Authority announced that tightened security measures apply to all internal and external airport facilities, including car parking, domestic flights and passenger identification as part of the overall increase of precautions.
Air Operations continue normally, other than in regards to stepped up security measures. EgyptAir confirms that all flights to European, Arab, Asian and African cities will continue as scheduled. The only effected air traffic is that to or from the United States, but only limited flights were effected in the regard.
Last Updated: June 22nd, 2011
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