KHALED RAMY Regional Director, Egyptian State Tourist Offi ce 020 7493 5283
Where to Book it Thomas Cook Signature 0844 871 6652 www.tcsignature.com
Six nights B&B in the Grand Rotana, Sharm el Sheikh, based on two pax in a Classic room, from £529pp including flights with Egyptair from London Heathrow and private transfers
Red Sea Holidays 0845 313 9949 www.agent.re
Seven nights staying at the 4 Sun All-Inclusive Sharm Resort in May starts from just £349 - including flight with meals, 20kg luggage allowance, transfers and in-resort representative!
Selling Short Breaks & Holidays: What has been the impact of the political upheavals in Egypt? Khaled Ramy: It’s not been that dramatic and it’s important to get across the message that it’s business as usual. The resorts are working without any problems – and have been throughout. The Foreign Offi ce never restricted travel to the Red Sea where there were no problems whatsoever. In addition, there are now some great offers and resorts are doing everything they can to please their guests. Now is a very good time to go.
How did 2010 visitor numbers fi nish? By the end of 2010 we had received 1.45 million UK visitors, which was a huge increase on the 300,000 total we had in 2003. The fi rst two months of 2011 saw 104,000 and 80,000 visitors respectively and March climbed back to 107,000.
Are numbers starting to increase again? Egypt has always had tremendous increases over the past six or seven years and I hope that within the very near future we’ll get those rates of increase back again. Without the political problems we would have achieved more than 1.5million UK visitors, but I hope there will be a speedy recovery and I think we may still achieve that fi gure. We’re one of the very strongest winter destinations and it’s certainly valid for us to say that we can target this number.
Why are you so optimistic? Egypt is a very important destination for the UK market; the price is right, the weather is right, the winter temperatures are right, the distance is right and the accommodation options are right – that’s
““The Foreign Offi ce never restricted travel to the Red Sea... there are now some great offers and resorts are doing everything
they can to please their guests. Now is a very good time to go.”
22 May/June 2011 • www.shortbreaksholidays.com
why I’m so optimistic. Our Red Sea hotels are directly on the beach, often with their own coral reef. Egypt also offers the advantage of combining culture and leisure in one holiday and at the moment there are no queues for the temples and museums!
What plans do you have to tell the travel trade that the situation is back to normal in Egypt? We are working closely with tour operators to get the message across and we are also organising educationals. Although nothing has yet been confi rmed we are hoping that some special conferences will be hosted in Egypt over the next couple of months.
Do you plan any special advertising to help get the message across? No, there will be no extra advertising. We put our plans in place last July and that’s continuing as normal with outdoor and magazine advertising. We do four bursts, three Red Sea – in September, January and May – and one Classical Egypt, in November, and saw no reason to change this plan.
Are all scheduled fl ights now back to normal? Yes, they are, and on top of that Egyptair is introducing twice-weekly scheduled fl ights to Sharm el Sheikh from Heathrow, starting in June, which will improve travel options.
Above: Egypt’s unique cultural heritage, here in Alexandria
Looking towards the end of 2011, how confi dent are you? I am very confi dent that things will quickly get back to normal within a few months; everything is back on track. Things never were as bad as people thought. I had family in Cairo the whole time and 100 metres away from where the TV crews were fi lming, there was nothing happening. In addition, British holidaymakers were in Egypt the whole time and the Foreign Offi ce never said ‘don’t travel to the Red Sea’.
What is the main task right now? It’s important to tell the trade that business is normal and agents must convey this message to their customers. I don’t think that all agents are fully aware that everything is now OK and that’s the message we need to get across.
On a personal level, how do you feel about what has happened in Egypt? People often look on the bad side but there’s a good side. Egypt now has free democratic parliamentary and presidential elections and the new president will be able to stay in power only for a maximum of two periods of four years. This is very important for the country and has also been perceived by people in the UK that Egypt is changing in the right way.
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