After shutting down its Egypt operations completely for the past couple years, US-based tour operator conglomerate the Travel Corporation is planning to re-enter the country in 2015.
“Based on the information we have right now, and based on the information of the U.S. State Department, we are going back to Egypt,” confirmed Richard Launder, president of Travel Corp. USA.
After suspending its Egypt operations since the country’s revolution in 2011, Launder said the company is getting calls about clients wanting to go to Egypt, Travelweekly.com reported.
“The interesting thing is that people are asking for it again,” he said. “People want to go there. It’s been three years since people have been able to travel to Egypt in any numbers. This wasn’t really us initiating it; this was us getting phone calls and people saying, ‘When can we go back?’”
Consequently, starting in September, the Contiki brand will begin offering departures to Egypt. Following that, Trafalgar and Insight will offer Egypt departures starting in January.
And Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, which just prior to the revolution had invested in building and launching the 82-passenger upscale river cruise vessel River Tosca on the Nile, plans to begin sailing it again starting in September 2015.
“We have received some inquiries for Egypt,” said Uniworld President Guy Young. “It is a great destination, we have a fantastic ship and product, and we are really keen to support Egyptian tourism. For all these reasons, yes, we are looking at trying to start up operations again in September 2015.”
For operators that had Egypt itineraries in the past and a considerable amount of Egypt volume, there is more to the story than just bringing back a destination that once produced a great deal of business. They have seen firsthand the economic suffering of supplier partners and ground operators in the destination and are eager to help nurture some degree of recovery.
“Tourism is absolutely vital to Egypt,” said Paul Wiseman, president of Trafalgar. “We feel a responsibility for assisting with the economic recovery as best we can. It’s a terrible thing for people there that tourism has dried up. We’ve wanted to go back into Egypt as fast as possible. We just haven’t felt that we’ve been able to until now.”
That said, the executive team at the Travel Corp. acknowledged that it will be closely watching and monitoring the situation on the ground to see how things progress in Egypt and to determine how and whether to proceed with itineraries.
“In the areas that we operate in, there appears to be much more stability than there has been in the past,” Wiseman said. “We have our fingers crossed.”