Americans (and others) Flock Back to Egypt
(And for Some Very Good Reasons)
by Jimmy Dunn
Its May, and soon schools will let out in the US, affording people the opportunity for travel. Since the beginning of the War in Iraq, and actually prior to that, the tourism industry for Egypt, and as I should imagine elsewhere, has been sluggish if not downright absent. Yet ever since this war was even perceived as over, tourism has been picking up, and now we are beginning to see a real return of travelers to this oldest of civilizations we call Egypt for some really good reasons, not the least of which are some spectacular travel deals. Don't miss out, as many of these specials may evaporate at the end of May (2003) (see some examples below).
"Isn't Egypt a dangerous place to go?", I get asked most all the time. Well, no, it is actually one of the safest tourism destinations on the face of the earth. Fear L.A., New York, or Miami, but not Egypt, where tourist security has benefited from years of polished professionalism. Long before 9/11 and America's sudden awareness of its vulnerability to acts of terrorism, Egypt had extensive airport and hotel security, and a police force just for the safety of its tourists. The result has been that no violent tourist deaths have been reported in Egypt since 1997, and few other destinations can make such a claim. In a country where tourist safety is under the magnifying glass of the world media, we know of only one instance of minor tourism injury involving an attempted camera robbery. So protective is Egypt of its tourists that during the Iraq War, when the US State Department issued travel advisories for any number of countries in the region and elsewhere, Egypt never made that list of dangerous destination.
Behind Egypt's growing reputation as a safe destination stands to important factors. First, Egypt's tourism industry is an important element of its economy, employing literally millions of Egyptians directly or indirectly. Not surprisingly, most Egyptians are well aware of its importance and have a very positive attitude towards foreign travelers. And of course, the government of Egypt takes every measure possible to protect one of its major sources of income. Few other countries in the world are more reliant on tourism revenue and the Egyptian government is very aware that the slightest hint of danger has a catastrophic effect on that trade.
Also, Egypt is fervently anti-terrorism (as well as peace oriented). That comes as somewhat of a surprise to many Americans that I talk to, but the fact is that there were some "bad old days" when the same people behind 9/11 assassinated one Egyptian president and attempted to do the same to the current one. Hence, additional problems by radical groups in the middle 1990s resulted in a complete crackdown on such elements. Those behind these acts either escaped the country, or were imprisoned, and a number of social reforms were inaugurated in order to reduce their influence. Together with very stiff safety measures, this has resulted in Egypt's elevation to a carefree haven for foreign travelers.
A Polished Industry
One of the nice aspects of Egypt is that its tourism industry is polished by over 2,000 years of tourism experience. Even the ancient Greeks took vacations in Egypt, together with a stream of famous historic travelers, and today's travel continues to benefit from a tourism industry that has more experience than any other in the world. The world's first tourists traveled here, where the first tourism industry grew up. Nowhere will one find a more hospitable people nor better tourist facilities.
Today, we find an Egypt where millions of Europeans flock to its fine beaches along the mainland coast and the Sinai peninsula to sun or scuba dive, and where others travel visit ancient pharaonic, Christian and medieval monuments of world fame. Here one finds the only remaining wonder of the ancient world, the Great Pyramid, together with the largest, most opulent temples and tombs ever constructed.
Once tourists arrive, they find much more, including high culture such as operas, great restaurants, art galleries and high nightlife, as well as golfing in the shadows of the pyramids or yes, even bowling. They sit leisurely in a lounge chair sipping cocktails, while floating down the historic Nile River on modern floating hotels as ancient temples pass by in this largest of all open museums. One moment they may be enjoying a steak at TGI Fridays, or a burger from McDonalds, while the next they are given the opportunity to view the gold of Tutankhamun, or a spectacular light show at the Temple of Karnak. Everything is waiting, from the Hard Rock Cafe to quite, Italian restaurants or delightful oriental retreats. This is Egypt; alive, vibrant and just outright fun, with something for everyone.
When tourism slumps in Egypt, as it has during the recent conflict, Egyptians become very proactive in order to bring those lost tourists back aboard. Everywhere there are deals. Often luxurious Nile Cruise lines offer almost absurd pricing while hotel chains slash prices providing offers on accommodations that are almost startling. One finds deals in some of the highest caliber facilities at unheard of pricing.
Currently, tour operators are offering trips to Egypt, half way around the world from the US, at better prices than one might find to a domestic destination. Recent promotions by Egypt Air have allowed tour companies to make travel to Egypt very affordable, whether one wishes to journey "on the cheap" or in super first class style. For those who always wanted to go to Egypt, but never thought they could afford to do so, take a look at Misr Travel's exceptional value. Currently, $999 gets you round trip airfare with a seven day, six night tour of the most famous areas in Egypt, including a cruise aboard the Oberoi HS Shehrayar floating hotel. High end tour operator South Sinai Travel is offering the same price ($999) for an eight day, seven night vacation including a cruise aboard the new and luxurious MS Mirage Cruise boat. For $200 extra, the trip can be extended to eleven days and ten nights. Note that both offers are limited. As tourists flood back to Egypt, these opportunities may not last long, but for now, one may find any number of other special deals available, including a generally fabulous exchange rate within Egypt so that US dollars have a lot of buying power for souvenirs and other goodies (great prices on gold and other jewelry).For more deals, visit our Association of Travel Companies (AETBI), or submit a request for a tour quote.
Last Updated: May 23rd, 2011