Akin Koc from Anatolian Sky Holidays explains why there’s no better time to visit Egypt than now…

 


I was in Egypt when the referendum took place around Christmas. Before I went I had a few doubts about whether I should go after hearing a lot of headline news on the BBC about the demonstrations and violence. If I was planning to go alone I wouldn’t have doubted it; however I was taking my son and knew his mother would be very worried about him going. When we drove through Cairo to our hotel there were no demonstrations and no violence, I thought the driver must have carefully avoiding the troubles.

The following day our programme started with visiting Cairo Museum, which is located close to the famous Tahara square where all the demonstrations and violence occurred during the revolution two years ago, and I warned my son to be vigilant and careful. I was preparing to face the worst traffic and chaos caused by the demonstration while we were driving to Tahara square. On the way my incoming agency director called me and thanked me for coming to visit Cairo during this highly tense time, in the midst of the constitutional election. I joked with him that I only came to join in with the demonstrators at Tahara Square but when we arrived, there were hardly any demonstrators and no action. We were almost disappointed not to have seen any live demonstrations. On the other hand, I was nicely surprised that we were there during the constitutional election and only a few people were peacefully protesting against the new government like in any other country in Europe.

We were rather surprised to see only a few people when we walked into Cairo Museum. I remember last time when I visited the museum in 2008 there was a long queue to enter and inside it was so crowded you could barely walk. Now there were only a few other tourists enjoying the famous Tutnkham’s golden trouser of 3,500 pieces including the world famous golden mask. After that we were able to spend more time viewing the mummified bodies of the royal family which were more than 3,000 years old, including Ramsey the Second. We found it mind-blowing that they had kept these bodies so well for more than 3,000 years and wondered what the secret of this Mummification is, that even today’s science cannot explain. We enjoyed spending such a long time in the museum’s crowd-free environment.

The following day we visited the world famous Pyramids. I was confident that we wouldn’t come across any violence or demonstrations as we were fortunate enough to stay in Mena House Hotel (originally Ottoman’s royal family palace, converted into the hotel) located very close to the Pyramids. We had breakfast on the balcony overlooking the Pyramids, followed by a crowd-free trip walking inside and outside the Pyramids and learning the history of the ancient monuments. It blows your mind that they were built more than 4,700 years ago and that they are the only one of the Seven Wonders of the World that remains intact.

Finally, we finished our trip by flying to Luxor to start our time tunnel experiences of Nile cruises. We were spoilt by the five-star Nile Premium Boat, which offered an amazing choice of good quality food and excellent service. I now had no worries whatsoever about the violence after our trouble-free experience in Cairo. I can never understand why the tourism industry believes travelling to the Red Sea resorts is safer than Nile cruising. I can understand why they are reluctant towards Cairo (however after experiencing it myself, I am more than happy to send my clients here) but why are they against Nile cruising? It is no different to Red Sea resorts; there is a similar level of risk involved in both of them, but for some reason Nile cruises are considerably quieter and receive much fewer enquiries. It was heart-breaking to see so many boats left deserted on the Nile. I heard out of 350 boats only 70 or 80 are working since the revolution. How much longer can these boats last before they end up on the scrapheap? The boats that are running run on an average of 25-30% occupancy. How much longer can they keep going at this level? I saw the hotels are in a similar situation with some completely closed and some running with very low occupancy. After seeing all these first hand, you can see how alarming the situation is already. Local people become desperate; they try to sell anything at any price. They come by little boat and try to get your attention by throwing their goods onto the 30m high top deck, some goods dropping into the river before reaching the top deck. Unfortunately you cannot keep buying every single street seller’s goods to please them all, even if you want to. As soon as you leave the boat you are surrounded by an army of desperate street sellers. It is very annoying not to be able to walk freely, but on the other hand you have to understand how desperate they are.

After the holiday, I felt guilty that we had not been able to sell Egypt. I started to think that as an industry we do have some sort of responsibility towards reversing these badly affected destinations and put them right. I can see there is no more danger to tourists than anywhere else. I can see once more that the media can be the biggest enemy to our industry, with some feeding off sensationalist headlines – the results of which can be a disaster and a challenge for the industry.

Only a few demonstrations are taking place from time to time and no recent violence has been recorded. I specifically asked a number of Egyptians “Why shouldn’t I think that Egypt can turn violent like Syria or Libya?” It was interesting to always hear the same response: “Egyptians are not violent people; we will have never have a civil war.” When you hear so many people saying this with the same confidence, then you start to think positively.

After travelling back in time through the amazing ancient Temples and Valley of the Kings and Queens, you realise that not much has changed in 5,000 years. After visiting Egypt once more, you start to realise what an amazing country it is and what a well preserved history and civilisation it has, striking you from the beginning to the end. This gives you confidence that despite the political problems and negative media, Egypt can soon start bringing in tourists again - there is only one Egypt.

 

 

No better time to visit Egypt then Now!!!

I was in Egypt when the referendum took place around Christmas. Before I went I had a few doubt whether I should go or cancel after hearing a lot of headline news on BBC regarding demonstrations and warning about the violence. If I was planning to go alone I wouldn’t doubt and would go any way however I was going with my son and this will give you extra responsibility and leaving behind very worried mother. When we drove trough Cairo to our hotel there was no demonstration and no violence, I thought the driver was being careful to avoid all these troubles.The following day our programme started visiting Cairo Museum which is virtually on the famous Tahara square where all demonstrations and some small violence took place during revolution 2 years ago. I warned my son to be vigilante and careful as much as do my self. I was planning to face the worst traffic and chaos causing by the demonstration while we were driving to Tahara squire. On the way my incoming agency director called me and thanked me for coming to visiting Cairo during this high tension time and constitutional election. I only made a joke to said I came to join the demonstrators now in Tahara square. I was wondering whether this famous square would be in action as much as my son did. When we arrived there were hardly any demonstrators and there was no action. We were in some way disappointed not to have seen any live demonstrations. On the other hand I was nicely surprised to hear that we were there their during the constitution election and there was only a few people peacefully protesting against the new government like any other country in Europe.

We were rather surprised when we walked in to Cairo Museum to see only a few people. I remember last time when I visited the museum in 2008 there was a long queue to enter and inside the museum you could hardly walk from the crowds. Now this time apart us, there were only a few other tourists enjoying famous Tutnkham’s golden trouser of 3.500 pieces including world famous golden mask. After that we were able to spend more time viewing the mummified bodies of the royal family which were over 3.000 years old, including Ramsey the 2nd, who lies so real in front of you. You can even see their facial expressions and then it started to blow your mind how they managed to keep these bodies so well kept for over 3.000 years and what was the secret of Mummification that even today’s science cannot explain properly. We enjoyed spending such a long time in the Museum in the crowd free environment.

The following day we visited world famous Pyramids and I was confident about any violence or demonstrations because we were very fortunate to stay in Mena House Hotel (originally Ottoman’s royal family palaces, converted into to the hotel) virtually located by the Pyramids. We were having breakfast overlooking the Pyramids or enjoying the view from the room balcony. After crowd free trip walking in and outside of Pyramids and listening to the reasons for the Pharaohs building these unbelievable ancient monuments and knowing it had been built by around 2.700 bc and adding further 2000 years you are think it has actually build 4.700 years ago, it blows your mind, it looks like built yesterday. It is the only one of the seven wonders of the world which remains intact.

Finally we finished our trip and flew to Luxor to start our time tunnel experiences of Nile cruises. We have been spoilt by 5 * Nile Premium Boat offering amazing choice of good quality food and excellent service. This time I had no worry whatsosoever after Cairo’s experience, I was confident threr will be no trouble whatsoever in Nile Cruise. I never understand the travel Industry and the tourist, they feel safe enough to travel to red sea resorts but not to Nile cruising. I can understand Cairo although after I experienced myself I am more than happy to send my clients to Cairo as well. But why not Nile Cruising? It is no different then Red Sea resorts. Similar level of risk involve on both but some reason Nile Cruising extremely quiet and not much enquiries. It was heartbreaking to see so many boats left on the nile to die. I heard out of 350 boats only 70 or 80 are working since the revolution. How long more can these boats can last before they end up on scrapheap? The boats which are running they are running at an average 25 to 30% occupancy. How long more they can keep going at this level of occupancy? I saw the hotels are in a similar situation with some completely closed and some are running with a very low occupancy. After seeing all these closely, you can see how alarming the situation is already. Local people become desperate, they try to sell anything with any prices, they come by little boat and try to get your attention by throwing their goods onto top deck which is 30 meters high, some of then dropped in the river before reaching the top deck. Unfortunately you cannot keep buying every single street sellers goods to pleased them all, even if you want to. As soon as you leave the boats you will be surrounded by an army of desperate street sellers. It is very annoying not to be able to walk freely, but on the other hand you have to understand how desperate they are.

I felt really bad after the holiday and felt guilty that we have not been able to sell Egypt. I started to think as an industry we do have some sort of responsibility towards reversing these badly affected destinations and put them right. I can see there is no more danger to tourists than anywhere else. I can see once more the Media can be the biggest enemy to our industry, which feed off sensationalist headlines and the results can be a disaster and a challenge for the industry. You don’t mind if all what Media says are true, like what is happening in Syria and what happened in Libya, but nothing like this is happening in Egypt. Only a few demonstrations are taking place from time to time and no recent violence has being recorded. I specifically asked a number of Egyptians “why shouldn’t I think that Egypt can turn into violence like Syria or Libya?” It was interesting to always here the same response “ Egyptians are not violent people, we will have never a civil war” when you hear this from so many people, telling this with the same confidence, then you started to think positively.

After journeying back in time through the amazing ancient Temples and Valley of the Kings and Queens then you start to think that not much has gone in 5.000 years. After visiting Egypt once more, you start to realise how amazing a country Egypt is and what a well preserved history and civilisation striking you from the beginning to the end. This gives you confidence that despite the plotical problems and negative media, Egypt can again soon start bring in tourists again as there is only one Egypt.

 

 

 

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