Of all the major tourism destinations, few can match Egypt. For
most American visitors, it represents the essence of international
travel. In and around Cairo are such outstanding attractions as the
Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Egyptian Museum; in Luxor the
awesome temples and tombs in the Valley of the Kings, the
spectacular Abu Simbel temples of Ramses II, the Karnak Temples and
the list goes on.
Little wonder that a tour to Egypt ranks among many clients as
the proverbial “trip of a lifetime.” Just the same, savvy agents
are growing aware that the country that they’ve successfully sold
over the years is not sitting on its laurels. Instead, this
destination’s infrastructure is seeing constant additions,
expansions and upgrades. Among other things, this means that Egypt
offers agents repeat business opportunities while remaining a
premier destination for first-timers.
“We are improving the quality of our product from all angles
from the level of services and the quality of accommodations to
entirely new attractions and activities,” said Omayma El Husseini,
deputy director of the Egyptian Tourist Authority in New York
Fueling all this activity is the Egyptian government’s policy of
privatizing much of the tourism industry. As a result, private
companies and individuals see Egypt’s tourism industry as a prime
opportunity for investment. Their funding is seen in new beach
resorts along the Mediterranean Sea, in golf courses, Red Sea dive
centers and other recreational facilities.
“Our tourism ministry provides only guidelines,” said El
Husseini. “The private sector executes their projects.”
This effort is clearly seen along Egypt’s northern coast of the
Mediterranean Sea. There a host of new beach resorts have opened
with more coming on line all the time. Admittedly, the market for
these properties is primarily Europeans who see Egypt as an
extremely attractive and relatively nearby holiday getaway. Still,
for the younger, mid-market American, these same resorts can be an
attractive side trip after intensive cultural touring.
The Egyptian Tourist Authority notes that there are some 280
miles of coastline between the city of Alexandria and the Libyan
border in the west. Just a year ago, direct air service between
Europe and this coast began at two airports Marsa Matrouh and El
While Cairo offers clients a wide range of four- and five-star
hotels, it’s of significance that less well-known areas of the
country now also offer top-quality accommodations. In Sharm El
Sheikh on the Red Sea, the two-year-old Four Seasons Resort offers
136 rooms of which 27 are suites. The property occupies more than
1.5 million acres that includes a private white-sand beach
stretching 328 feet to the sea. A jetty provides access for
deep-water snorkeling, while dozens of dive centers provide
equipment and guides for scuba expeditions through beautiful coral
reefs. The Four Seasons also has two properties in Cairo, and they
have “development plans” for Alexandria.
Another top-of-the-line property in Sharm El Sheikh is the
Ritz-Carlton Club with 307 guestrooms, including 48 suites and 25
Ritz-Carlton Club rooms. The emphasis here is also on recreation
and well being, reflected in a spa and fitness center and even an
Arabian massage tent.
The Ritz is also a 15-minute drive from Naama Bay, popular for
night life, bazaars and casinos. Ninety minutes away by boat is the
Ras Mohamed National Park with a wealth of underwater treasures
The Egyptian government is funding major projects that directly
support tourism. Of particular importance to the U.S. visitor is
the expansion of Cairo International Airport. Terminal Three is
currently under construction and scheduled for completion late next
year. It will boast the latest passenger-handling facilities and
services and will double CAI’s capacity. The T-3 will be connected
by a bridge to the existing Terminal Two, now known as the New
The Luxor Airport is also undergoing a $50 million upgrade. Its
fully air-conditioned terminal building was opened last year.
Egyptian Tourist Authority
630 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2305
New York, NY 10111
Indicative of the interest in Egypt is the addition of new
escorted tour programs by major West Coast operators. Brendan
Worldwide Vacations, for example, is introducing a new Majesty of
Egypt deluxe tour this year. Departures will be every second week
starting Oct. 10.
Globus is offering more than 150 departure dates for its three
Egypt programs, an all-time record according to Steve Born, vice
“Year to year we’ve been seeing at least an annual 10 percent
increase in the number of departures reflecting the continuing rise
in popularity in Egypt travel,” he said.
One of the company’s most popular products is the nine-day Egypt:
Early Civilizations and Christianity. In addition, the company
offers the 10-day Egyptian Splendor tour and cruise program and the
12-day Grand Tour of Egypt tour and cruise program.