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  • 05/06/2013 - MAY 2013

    • Word of Wisdom of the Month

      "Get your ego out of the way and move on".

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      Is Egypt safe for tourists?

      I’m just back from 3 weeks in Egypt – and yes, the country is safe for tourists. That’s it. Go ahead and book your holiday. You’ll have a fabulous time. Thanks for reading. Oh, you want more? For this particular trip I didn’t go to Alex or the Delta, I didn’t go to Sinai & the Red Sea resorts, and I didn’t go to the Western Desert. That’s a chunk of Egypt missing. But I did spend time in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, I did visit key cities and archaeological sites in Middle Egypt, and I did talk to a few people. Here’s my take on things. Tourism to Egypt is way down. In 2010, 15 million tourists visited. In 2011 that was down to 10 million. Then 11 million in 2012. But in my book 11 million people is a pretty sizeable vote of tourist confidence – in terms of sheer numbers, it’s more than Morocco gets, more than South Africa, and far more than Argentina, India or Japan. But there’s a political transition under way in Egypt. The country is emerging after decades of dictatorship. Vested interests are jockeying for position. That means Egypt is in the news quite a bit. Work with that. Understand it. Don’t wait for things to go back to normal.There is no more ‘normal’. And lack of political stability doesn’t necessarily mean lack of tourist safety. Quite the opposite. Police are extra-vigilant now around tourists. The local tourism industry knows it can’t afford to be even a tiny bit complacent. Nobody is taking any chances. Egypt, in some ways, is safer now for tourists than it was before 2011. Package tours – a worry-free holiday Book a package tour through a reputable (bonded) company – with flights, transfers, accommodation and excursions included – and you’ll be as safe as safe can be. Even if your tour operator at home is hazy about what’s happening on the ground, their Egyptian agents will know the score at every point, adjusting and refining itineraries to match current conditions. If you’re on the Red Sea, everything will be normal in and around your resort. If you’re in the south, all of Luxor and Aswan are safe for tourists (other than desperate vendors and guides being extra-specially pushy). If you’re in Cairo, you’ll likely be placed in a hotel away from the downtown area – probably out near the Pyramids, which is absolutely fine. If you make any excursions to sites, it will most likely be by private bus, possibly in convoy with other buses and/or with police escort. All in all, it’s a worry-free holiday. Personally, I don’t like package tours. But if you want to see the sights and cover decent ground, a package tour is probably the best way to visit Egypt at the moment. If you’re travelling independently, you need to have your head screwed on and take slightly more care.

      Independent travellers – Tahrir Square in detail

      Most guidebooks start their Cairo city account with Tahrir Square. But times have changed. Travel writers would do better to pick another starting point. Currently (May 2013) Tahrir has become distinctly dodgy. Aside from the Egyptian Museum – best reached by taxi – I can’t come up with a compelling reason for tourists to go to Tahrir Square at all just now. Half the square is cordoned off as a construction site. The ex-Nile Hilton – now Ritz-Carlton – has been closed for years. The shops and cafes along the square’s eastern frontage are distinctly ordinary – and, with the square’s new notoriety, are now fringed by vendors and other boisterous characters keen to latch onto foreign gawpers. There’s fast food –KFC, Hardees, Pizza Hut – but not much else. I’m no shrinking violet, and I’m also not a government official obligated to promote maximum caution. I’m just a British outsider who’s lived, worked and played in Cairo, and been round the Middle East circuit a few times over the last 20 years to boot. And my advice is to think very hard before going to Tahrir Square. If you want to go, go in daytime – and don’t hang about. If this is your first time in Cairo, I suggest you skip Tahrir. Either way, I certainly wouldn’t go to Tahrir after dark, or anytime on Fridays. (Here comes the scary bit.) Tahrir is where protests start, it’s where mobs gather, and it’s where police have laid walls of concrete blocks across several side-streets in order to cut off exit routes and kettle people inside the square (photo and map). And in case you weren’t aware, not all protests these days are noble demands from righteous citizens for democracy. They’re just as likely to comprise several hundred pumped-up young men, armed with knives, guns, molotovs and/or other makeshift weapons, setting fires in the street and facing off against the police for no clear reason. This exasperates ordinary people and committed activists alike. Law and order aren’t totally breaking down, but economic pressures are intense and crime is on the rise (from, it must be said, a very low starting-point). Sexual assaults on women – by which I mean forcible seizure and/or abduction, violent bodily attacks, mass public rape – are a growing feature of the ‘protests’ in Tahrir. Most of the time, of course, daily life is tension-free. You might not see or even sense anything untoward. These tourists didn’t, for instance. I’m pleased for them. Be aware that the area around Tahrir – from 6th October Bridge in the north to the British Embassy in the south – is dodgier than the square itself. The side-streets behind the Mogammabuilding – particularly around Simon Bolivar Square – are notoriously unsafe after dark (this is where Guardian correspondent Jack Shenker was mugged earlier this month, and also where mobs smashed their way into the InterContinental Hotel Semiramis). Mohammed Mahmoud Street – now blocked by a concrete wall – has seen many recent protests. If tear gas is being fired, the ventilation system for Tahrir Square’s metro station (named Sadat) has been known to suck the gas underground into the metro. If you’re visiting the Garden City district, or staying in one of the hotels there (Kempinski, Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt or others), be aware that Qasr Al Aini Street is blocked at the Tahrir Square end: the only access is along the Corniche. But the Corniche tunnel exit by the Qasr Al Nil Bridge (directly beside the Semiramis) is one of Tahrir’s flashpoints, where crowds gather: if you’re driving back to Garden City after dark you’d do better to make a large circle around the area to approach it from the south instead. Independent travellers – around Cairo
      But Tahrir is a tiny part of a giant city. It gets too much attention. This blog post, for instance. Elsewhere, normality reigns. Cairo seemed fine to me this time, no scarier than any other big city and less scary than many. (The Financial Times agrees!) I walked a lot – around the Coptic churches near Mar Girgis metro, across downtown from Tahrir to Ataba, all the way through Islamic Cairo on Muski and Al Azhar to El Hussein, into the backstreets off Al Moaz, outside the walls past Bab Al Futuh, etc etc – and everything felt crazily normal to me. I’m pretty naive, though – and people tell me I also blend in fairly well as a local. And I’m male. All of which slants my experience. But I think visitors would do well to ditch the idea that Tahrir is some kind of Times Square/Piccadilly Circus/Place de la Concorde. Stay elsewhere. Stay in Zamalek. Stay in Dokki. Cairo is big enough that every district is like its own city centre. The best bit of advice I ever heard for walking in Cairo? Carry your stuff (camera, water, book etc) in an ordinary black plastic bag, the kind the locals carry shopping in. Nothing says ‘foreigner’ more than a daypack. A plastic bag – along with a button shirt, long trousers and a bit of facial swarthiness – has let me amble unremarked into more back alleys than I can remember. [UPDATE: Travel writer Zora O'Neill tweets to tell me the plastic bag advice was hers - she put it in the LP Egypt guide in 2007, she says. Credit to Zora. And apologies too.] Independent travellers – around Egypt As for the rest of Egypt, there are probably only two areas of concern for independent travellers. One is the Sinai. The south Sinai coast, from Sharm to Taba, seems to be fine – but any excursions inland (including to St Catherine’s) seem significantly riskier just now. One Egyptian travel agent I talked to said he’d recently refused to book transport from Sharm to St Catherine’s for a client – “I don’t want the responsibility,” he told me. Would I travel overland between Cairo and Sinai just now? I’m not sure. I’d take advice before deciding. I might fly. The whole of northern Sinai is off-limits to tourists. Middle Egypt – effectively, the Nile between Cairo and Luxor – is just opening up again to tourism. Visiting these places (Beni Suef, Minya, Assyut, Sohag) was never easy. For a time in the 90s and 00s, during an Islamist insurgency, tourists were barred altogether. Even if it’s possible to travel there independently now, from what I’ve been told you’ll very likely be assigned a police minder for the duration of your stay, both inside the cities and if you choose to head out to any archaeological sites in the countryside. I saw no other tourists when I walked in these places last month. Elsewhere, Luxor and all points south are suffering badly from the lack of tourism just now. Group bookings are way down – which means independent travellers can reckon on quieter excursions and more rewarding encounters. Visit, and you’ll probably be welcomed like a long-lost relative. Who’s come to buy things. Lots of things.


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      Living like an ancient Egyptian

      If you want to sleep on King Tutankhamun’s bed, rest on his painted royal chair, drink your morning coffee from his gold cup and wear his bracelets encrusted with semi-precious stones; or if you want to decorate your house with painted ceramic Mamluk and Ottoman vases, then all these dreams can come true. The Replica Production Unit (RPU) opened recently at Salaheddin Citadel in the two-storey-building of the Military School known as the Red Palace. It will provide you with all the objects you need to enter the mysterious world of the ancient Egyptians. You will even be able to experience the personal life of the Pharaohs and live among their protective deities. The Red Palace was constructed in 1815 by Khedive Mohamed Ali Pasha following the massacre of the remaining Mamluks. The aim was to establish Egypt’s first military academy. Although the building is only partially restored — all work having stopped because of the budget shortage in the aftermath of the January 2011 Revolution — the palace on my visit was a hive of activity with workmen, artisans and archaeologists in every one of the small workshops, all occupied in carving, drawing, painting, modelling and decorating replicas of Egypt’s ancient, Graeco-Roman, Coptic and Islamic artefacts, or else hammering pieces of bronze in an attempt to transform them into necklaces, earrings or bracelets embellished with semi-precious stones. Along the
      corridors and in some of the galleries are exhibited some objects from Tutankhamun’s funerary collection. Here is his gold bed with its lioness-headed legs, and the closet and head rest; the Pharaoh’s military chariot and his throne decorated with painted scenes depicting him with his wife; and his funerary regalia including canopic jars and boats for the celestial afterlife. A number of colourful Islamic clay vessels in various shapes and sizes are also on display, as well as jewellery and the beautifully-painted head of Queen Nefertiti. Each artisan, painter and workman stands face to face with an illustration of an object in hand and studying its features and size so as to produce an exact replica. “We must respect the nuances of each object,” Archaeologist Wael Mohamed explains. To do this, turquoise and lapis lazuli are embedded in copper plate to recreate a Pharaonic motif. According to RPU Executive Director Amr Al-Tibi, all the stones used are the same semi-precious varieties used by the ancient Egyptians, which explains why these replicas are more expensive than those sold in the Khan Al-Khalili and Kerdasa bazaars. A similar scenario is enacted in the drawing and painting department. Men and women hold small busts carefully in their hands. All the busts represent Nefertiti, and the artists are
      patiently colouring her blue crown. “We try to reproduce the same level of blue,” says Reem Mokhtar, one of the young painters. Indeed, the RPU’s Technical Director Osama Al-Gherbawi told Al-Ahram Weekly, recent productions must meet the proportions of the artefact, as well as the different degrees of colour, any cracks that have appeared on the ancient objects, and the methods and techniques used in the fabrication of the original piece. To do this, Al-Gherbawi said, the reproductions must be based on two essential poles: the personnel and materials. With this in view, 50 people were selected for the range of workshops and ateliers, not to mention painters and sculptors from the Faculty of Fine Arts. “The average length of experience of most of the staff recruited was more than 20 years, and there were also new graduates,” Al-Gherbawi said. “These artisans are very clever, and they want to improve their careers and their incomes.” That is why, he said, they kept so strictly to the illustrations and colours in the archaeology books. The RPU was created a year ago as an implementation of the new antiquities Law 117/1983 and its 2010 amendments. Article 36 of the law establishes the intellectual property rights and trademark of the Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) in the production of replicas. According to the law, the MSA is the only foundation with permission to produce exact replicas on a 1:1 scale. Small sizes of every piece are also fabricated in order to meet all tastes of clients, who will obtain official MSA certification of its production. According to the law, the RPU was intended to create a photo bank that would then sell the rights to images. Professional photography inside museums and archaeological sites is now completely prohibited. Use of photographs for educational purposes will be free of charge, although the intellectual property will remain with the authority. The RPU also plans to pursue intellectual property rights on its own logos and trademarks. Every museum will be provided with an outlet where the company’s products will be made available to the public, including replicas, t-shirts, tea sets and plates. Owing to the revolution, however, all the activities of the RPU have been put on hold except the reproduction of replicas. Despite its brief age, since its inception the RPU has fabricated a batch of 130 replica statues worth LE2.3 million from the unique collection of
      King Tutankhamun for tourists and hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh. It has also sold replicas through gift shops in museums and archaeological sites to a value of LE256,754, as well as taking part in a replica exhibition in Berlin. “We are providing efficient services to complete restoration and development work,” Al-Tibi told the Weekly. Reproducing good quality replicas and sharing in internal and external exhibitions, as well as filling the Egyptian market, was a very important step to reviving Egypt’s ancient art and history and protecting them from the inferior Chinese products that have recently flooded the market worldwide. In Khan Al-Khalili for example, Al-Tibi says, replicas of authentic ancient Egyptian pieces are on sale with shapes that are alien to this great civilisation. Regrettably, although the goods are of poor quality they are on sale around the world, giving a bad impression of Egypt’s great monuments and artefacts. This view is shared by artist Ahmed Said, head of the RPU’s pottery section. He says it is common to find on the US market the face of a dog wearing a nemes, a Pharaoh’s head dress, as if it were Tutankhamun. “These copies distort Egyptian history,” Said adds furiously. Al-Tibi pointed out that the RPU also aimed to increase the public awareness of Egyptian culture and heritage establishing exhibition of replicas in schools and universities for better assimilation of Egyptian history. The RPU is also a good means of developing the MSA budget by sending touring replica exhibitions around the world, as well as temporary displays in hotels and resorts in Egypt — especially in popular tourist destinations such as Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada and Sharm El-Sheikh. Unfortunately the MSA
      is trying to deal with a low budget resulting from the withdrawal of tourism, caused by the breakdown in security following the turmoil of the last two years. The MSA budget is dependent on the revenue it receives from ticket sales to archaeological sites and fees for the professional services provided. Al-Tibi suggests that a touring exhibition to include items that are prohibited from leaving the country, such as the gold throne and mask of Tutankhamun and the funerary collection of King Khufu’s mother, Queen Hetepheres, would be a good way to earn more money and to promote Egypt as a safe tourist destination. “These ideas could easily come true, but my hands are tied with all bureaucratic governmental regulations,” Al-Tibi says. “If I had a free hand I would have purchased special equipment to spruce up and develop the mechanism of replica production in order to provide more goods in shorter time.” Then, he says, the RPU would strike a deal with the Khan Al-Khalili merchants to provide them with replicas to replace “those ugly, dull Chinese ones” as well as rent booths in museums abroad. Developing existing outlets and gift shops in museums as well as developing the administrative skills of its managers and staff are another way of increasing the MSA budget. Al-Tibi says the current gift shops are not up to standard, and this explains why they provide the ministry with such a low income. Spreading the RPU means of communication is another goal, Al-Tibi says. A well-organised website to acquaint people with the aim and activities of the RPU and to sell the products online should be available. Al-Tibi has not left children out of his overall plan. On the contrary, he suggests marketing wooden and textile bags in the shape of Tutankhamun’s toy, Dama. Each bag would contain organic ancient Egyptian colours; papyri; paint brushes decorated with pictures of ancient Egyptian deities and a puzzle featuring a scene shown on a temple or a tomb. The Red Palace is now the permanent home of the RPU, and there are hopes of a larger, well-equipped building in Fustat within the visiting path of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation overlooking the Ain Al-Sira Lake. However, the lack of budget first needs to be overcome.
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      Maybe Cleopatra Didn’t Commit Suicide

      The famous story of Cleopatra’s suicide gets points for drama and crowd appeal: Her lover, Mark Antony, had been defeated in battle by Octavian and, hearing that Cleopatra had been killed, had stabbed himself in the stomach. Very much alive, after witnessing his death, the beautiful last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt pressed a deadly asp to her breast, taking her own life as well.
      But what if Cleopatra didn’t commit suicide at all?
      Pat Brown, author of the new book, The Murder of Cleopatra: History’s Greatest Cold Case, argues that the “Queen of Kings” did not take her own life. Rather, she was murdered, and her perpetrators managed to spin a story that has endured for more than 2,000 years.
      Brown, writing for The Scientist, says she decided to treat Cleopatra’s story as any typical crime scene.
      I was shocked at the number of red flags that popped up from the pages of the historical accounts of the Egyptian queen’s final day. How was it that Cleopatra managed to smuggle a cobra into the tomb in a basket of figs? Why would the guards allow this food in and why would they be so careless in examining them? Why would Octavian, supposedly so adamant about taking Cleopatra to Rome for his triumph, be so lax about her imprisonment? Why would Cleopatra think it easier to hide a writhing snake in a basket of figs rather than slip poison inside one of the many figs? How did all three women end up dead from the venom? Wasn’t it unlikely that the snake cooper­ated in striking all three, releasing sufficient venom to kill each of them? Why was the snake no longer present at the crime scene? Was a brand-new tomb so poorly built that holes remained in the walls of the building? Why did the guards not look for the snake once they thought it had killed the women? Why were the wounds from the fangs of the snake not obvious? Why did the women not exhibit the symptoms of death by snake venom or even by poison? Why did the guards not see any of the women convulsing, vomiting, or holding their abdomens in agony? Why didn’t they see any swelling or paral­ysis of face or limbs or any foaming at the mouth?
      Brown began pursuing these answers through historical texts and more recent scholarly works. She spoke with Egyptologists, poison experts, archeologists and historians of the ancient world, slowly forming her own version of what really took place August 12, 30 BC.
      With each step back in time from the end of Cleopatra’s life to the beginning, I discovered more and more evidence pointing to a radically different explanation of history than the ancients and Octavian wanted us to believe.
      In this story, Cleopatra never loved Antony or Julius Caesar. Antony was murdered, and Cleopatra was tortured and strangled to death.
      I believed Cleopatra may have been one of the most brilliant, cold-blooded, iron-willed rulers in history and the truth about what really happened was hidden behind a veil of propaganda and lies set in motion by her murderer, Octavian, and the agenda of the Roman Empire.

      This book, Brown hopes, will set the record straight.

       

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      Hong Kong (CNN) -- Parents of a 15-year-old Chinese tourist have apologized after the teenager defaced a stone sculpture in an ancient Egyptian temple with graffiti

      The act drew ire in both Egypt and China -- generating a massive online backlash amongst China's unforgiving netizens.

      The vandal carved 'Ding Jinhao was here' in Chinese in the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple.

      This was photographed by an embarrassed Chinese traveler and shared on weibo, China's micro-blogging site on May 24.

      "The saddest moment in Egypt. I'm so embarrassed that I want to hide myself. I said to the Egyptian tour guide,'I'm really sorry,'" that traveler wrote on the original weibo post. 

      "We want to wipe off the marking with a towel. But we can't use water since it is a 3,500 relic."

      It didn't take long -- actually, just a day -- before outraged netizens tracked down Ding in Nanjing.

      Slammed online and exposed further in the mainstream, Ding's parents quickly contacted media outlets.

      "We want to apologize to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China," Ding's mother said in a China Daily report.

      Ding's parents said they shouldered the responsibility of what their son did, adding he had learned his lesson.

      World's unfriendliest nations for tourists

      The original weibo post was re-tweeted almost 90,000 times, received over 18,000 comments and was widely distributed across local media.

      "Reading this disastrous news this morning is heartbreaking. I despise this behavior, especially in Egypt -- the place I love. Now, I just want to say 'Sorry' to Egypt," commented weibo user "Net bug jing jing."

      "It's a disgrace to our entire race!" said another angry micro-blogger.

      Tourism in Egypt: Hope amid slow recovery

      In a state-run Xinhua media report, one of the agency's photographers said local Egyptian staff had worked to try and clean the sculpture. While there was some improvement, the graffiti could not be totally removed.

      Outbound Chinese tourism has expanded rapidly in recent years. In 2012, Chinese overtook Americans and Germans as the world's top international tourism spenders, with 83 million people spending a record US$102 billion on international tourism.

      That growth has brought with it a backlash in some industry sectors. (See our report on Chinese tourism: The good, the bad and the backlash)

      Earlier this month, Beijing called on its nation's tourists to improve their behavior, with Vice Premier Wang Yang stating it was important to project a good image of Chinese tourists.

      Chinese travelers the world's biggest spenders

       

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  • 29/04/2013 - April Newsletter

    • Word of Wisdom of the Month

      "Leadership is not something you do to people. It's something you do with people".

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      Glad to announce that Traveline has been awarded in recognition of outstanding performances and customer satisfaction by Kuoni Travel Limited UK for year 2012.

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      Egypt hosts the annual conference of the General Assembly of The Italian Federation for the Travel Agencies ( FIAVET) in Luxor

      In the framework of the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism to attract the important events to Egyptian destinations, Egypt hosts the annual conference of the General Assembly of The Italian Federation for Travel Agencies ( FIAVET) in Luxor from 18- 20 April 2013 . Among five foreign and Arab countries ,the Egyptian tourist office in Italy has won to organize the biggest tourism Italian gathering in Luxor. The opening Ceremony will be under the title “ GLOBAL COMPETITION: ITALY AND EGYPT FOR A POSSIBLE CHALLENGE “ Hosting the FIAVET conference in Luxor is also a good opportunity to attract the Italian tourism to Southern Egypt , showing all its cultural treasures.
         

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      Egyptian minister announces webcams at tourist sites

      The Egyptian tourism minister
       told a conference in Milan Thursday evening that live webcams will be placed in the country’s major tourist destinations to show the world the true conditions of the country.Live-streamed surveillance of LuxorAswanSharm el SheikhHurghada and Marsa Alam will reveal to anyone connected to the Internet how tourists are spending their vacations in the land of thepharaohs.”Egypt is a safe country,” Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou repeated several times to a packed press conference Thursday evening at the BIT tourism trade fair in Milan. ”One can not reduce a country extending millions of square metres into a few hundred square meters,” he added, making reference to Tahrir or ”Martyr” Square in downtown Cairo.And although the Salafites are boycotting Valentine’s Day as a ”Western, ‘Christian’ tradition that goes against Sharia law” Zaazou sought to reassure the Italian market. ”Bikinis are welcome, and no restrictions exist of any type,” he guaranteed.”I am a technocrat and I do not belong to any political party. But I assure you that everyone in Egypt is very clear on the importance of the tourism industry, the only one able to function at the moment.” ”This government and the president himself are firmly convinced of the fact that the path to take is openness and development in the sector,” Zaazou said, adding that tourism employs four million people in Egypt. No administration ”can change this trend – I guarantee it,” said Zaazou. Zaazou thanked Italian tourism operators who continued to support Egypt over the last two years. Zaazou reported that despite Egypt’s political crisis, which hit the entire Egyptian tourism industry, there were 700,000 visitors from Italy in 2012. ”We expect to reach 1,000,000 Italian tourists” this year, added Zaazou. But if many of the beach locations are more-or-less managing, archeological sites continue to suffer, he said. ”At Luxor and Aswan, operators are suffering a lot,” Zaazou confirmed. Things may improve substantially thanks to a decision adopted by the Italian national tour operators’ association FIAVET to hold its annual conference this April in Luxor. ”To calm Italian tourists and travel agents, we are going to a safe country,” affirmed FIAVET President Fortunato Giovannoni. Zaazou also asserted that, in addition to continued development of the Red Sea, the Mediterranean coast must also grow. ”Our intention is to increase domestic air transport to allow vacationers to more easily reach archeological pearls like Luxor from beach locations like Mars Alam. We’ll do so by opening flight connections,” Zaazou said.

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      Hilton Hotels & Resorts Adds To Its Growing Global Portfolio

      Hilton Hotels & Resorts, the most recognised hospitality brand in the Middle East, today announced the opening of the 158-room Hilton Alexandria Corniche following a major refurbishment programme. The hotel represents the 19th upscale property in Egypt for Hilton Worldwide and its second in the city of Alexandria. With a key focus on the brand’s signature service and style standards, the refurbishment and rebranding programme covered many of the hotel’s public areas including bedrooms, restaurants as well as the exterior and hotel grounds. Enhancements also incorporated state of the art in-room amenities combined with new stylish bedroom furnishings and guests at Hilton Alexandria Corniche will particularly welcome the introduction of complimentary wifi now offered throughout the hotel. The renovation also included the hotel’s Royal Floor, which has been significantly upgraded and enhanced in classic baroque style.Rob Palleschi, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts said: “For over five decades, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has been the hotel brand of choice for visitors to Egypt and I am proud and delighted our legacy continues as we officially open the stunning Hilton Alexandria Corniche in the vibrant and exciting community of Egypt’s second city.” Hilton Alexandria Corniche enjoys a prime location in an exclusive district of Alexandria, on the Corniche and overlooking the beachfront and beyond to the Mediterranean Sea. Offering the perfect blend of proactive, friendly service together with welcoming features, the hotel boasts an impressive list of amenities designed to promote business productivity as well as time for relaxation. All hotel restaurants and bars offer spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea including La Gourmandise French Pastry & Tea Lounge: Club 35, one of the city’s more popular nightclub bars serving Asian-fusion cuisine; Lebanese restaurant, Saha El-Layali; the hotel’s famous Cigar Bar, offering an extensive humidor and cocktail list and a poolside restaurant plus beach café. Recreational facilities include a private beach, infinity swimming pool and fitness centre. Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Hilton Worldwide, Middle East & Africa said: “Hilton Worldwide enjoys an enviable status as the foremost international hotel operator in Egypt and today’s opening further enhances our proud reputation. Hilton Alexandria Corniche perfectly complements our city based property, Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza, and is a welcome addition to our growing, quality portfolio for Middle East & Africa.”

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      Rick Steves,the American author Egypt visit in April 2013

      Richard "Rick" Steves is an American author and television personality focusing on European travel. He is the host of the American Public Television series Rick Steves' Europe, has a public radio travel .. born: May 10, 1955 (age 57), Edmonds Nationality: American Education: University of Washington Books: Europe 101, Mona winks, Europe in 22 Days,Kidding around Seattle, Ppk(5c)Rick Steves Europe Plan Movies: Rick Steves: Eastern Europe, Israel and Egypt 2000-2009,2013
      http://blog.ricksteves.com/
      http://thetravelphile.com/
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      The International Festival for Drums and Traditional Arts from 19 – 25 April 2013

      Under the auspices of The Ministry of Tourism the first edition of the International Festival for Drums and Traditional Arts was held from 19 – 25 April 2013 in Cairo. The activities of the festival was under the title “The dialogue of the Drums for Peace. The festival aims to arrange an international artistic activity that allows the Egyptian public recognize the different cultures of the world . 20 countries had participated in this Festival among which ( Turckey,India,Poland, Indonisia,USA,Brazil,France , Algeria, Maldives, Columbia, Ecuador, Togo, Namibia, Sudan, Greece, Germany, France, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh) .

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      Nile Marathon for Canoeing (Luxor/ Cairo 2013 )

      Under the auspices of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Authority, the first and unique event for canoeing from Luxor to Cairo will start in Luxor on April 25th and end in Cairo on May 5th 2013 . The Nile Marathon for canoeing aims to highlight and develop the role of cultural exchange through the participants in the Marathon, also to create awareness for preserving the water of the Nile , in addition to promoting Nile Tourism . There will be 17 racers from all over the world.

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      PayPal launching in Lebanon and Egypt

      BEIRUT: PayPal will finally launch in Lebanon and Egypt in 2013, the general manager of the online payment gateway, Elias Ghanem, announced Thursday at the ArabNet conference. Paypal is fully enabled – meaning buyers and sellers with locally issued bank accounts can do complete transactions – in the GCC and Jordan. In Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, customers can also open accounts to pay purveyors. Though the prevalence of cash-on-delivery in the Middle East delayed the rollout of PayPal in the MENA region, the trend now appears to be shifting. In an interview with ArabNet founder and CEO, Omar Christidis, Ghanem said that e-commerce in the MENA region was a $9 billion industry in 2012 and is projected to reach $15 billion by 2015. PayPal currently has a 5 percent share of the market and aims to raise its share to 10 percent in the next three years.

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      UNICEF and Amadeus partner to improve children’s lives together with the travel industry!

      Amadeus, a leading technology partner for the global travel industry, and UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, have come together to help shape a better future for the world’s most vulnerable children. The partnership will enable travel providers and sellers to raise funds for UNICEF by giving their customers the opportunity to make a micro donation when paying for travel online. “This joint initiative represents an innovative model to drive donations. The technology solution that Amadeus has provided to UNICEF as a philanthropic contribution will help this international organisation harness a collective, global action to raise funds for children. The process itself will be simple for travellers: a single click, that’s it. We truly believe that investing in today’s children, especially in relation to their health and education, helps to break the cycle of poverty, contributing to create more stable societies and sustainable growth,” said Tomás López Fernebrand, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Amadeus. The micro-donation process will be extremely user-friendly, allowing travellers to simply add a donation to UNICEF as they complete the shopping process online. During the first stage of this programme, selected travel providers and sellers, such as airline websites and online travel agents, will integrate a ‘check box’ on their online booking pages. If a traveller chooses to make a donation, they will receive a confirmation email. For participating travel brands, the product will exist as a neutral standalone system, cross-channel merchant engine. This consists of a donation interface to collect donation data that is linked to an Amadeus payment gateway. The donation payment is processed as a separate transaction from the travel purchase, simplifying things for the partner and for UNICEF. “Partnerships are at the heart of how UNICEF achieves results for children, in the field but also in the area of fundraising. Many of UNICEF’s existing Corporate Partners have established track-records of raising funds for UNICEF and engaging their staff and customers in UNICEF’s work. We believe that this new initiative with Amadeus will significantly improve UNICEF’s ability to reach a large number of people online and to provide them with a ‘one click’ opportunity to help some of the world’s most vulnerable children survive and thrive,” said Tim Hunter, International Fundraising Director for UNICEF. To launch this partnership, Amadeus and UNICEF hosted a roundtable event in London where the role of innovation and the importance of partnerships between the private sector, UN agencies and NGOs were discussed. The roundtable featured speeches from Tim Hunter, International Fundraising Director for UNICEF; Tomás López Fernebrand, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Amadeus; and Professor Linda Scott, DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. “Addressing some of the major development and social challenges in today’s world requires increasing collaboration between the private and not-for-profit sector. Deploying some of the processes, technology and expertise present in the private sector can make a significant difference to organisations that rely on funding and donations”, said Professor Linda Scott , DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Both Amadeus and UNICEF are leaders in their respective fields with significant global reach and scale, making them well matched to ensure this collaboration is a success. The potential for the initiative to generate significant donations is limitless. Partnerships are critical to achieving results for children. UNICEF has an established and successful track record of engaging with the corporate sector to bring about positive change for children. With a presence in more than 190 countries, UNICEF engages with companies at global, regional, and national levels across many different industry sectors. Amadeus is a chosen technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, working across 195 countries. This partnership aims at setting the foundation for a wider collaboration using technological innovation and engaging the global travel industry to crowd-source funds for children’s projects around the world. Source: Amadeus.

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  • 18/03/2013 - March 2013

    • Word of Wisdom of the Month

      "It's not the date you were born, or the date you died, that really matters. It's "the dash" between those years and what you do with it, to make a difference with your & others around you life".

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      Site Executive Summit Delivers Fundamentals and Forward Thinking to Professionals in Cairo, Egypt

      The Site Executive Summit has a long-standing tradition of annually selecting unique destinations to receive focused education from the Site International Board of Directors. In 2013, Egypt received this honor because of its rich cultural appeal as well as the country’s ongoing changes and concerning media attention. It was clear that the incentive and tourism professionals in the region would benefit greatly from the education and expertise of Site global leaders, who could offer training, motivation and insight. Site President David Sand, CEO of Uwin Iwin Incentives, opened the event with the following remarks: “It is a wonderful feeling to be here in Egypt at this incredibly important time in your history. The prime reason for us being here is to strengthen the long-standing relationships we as the Site Global community have with Egypt. We want to put a positive spotlight back on Egypt as a first-class incentive destination and to collaborate with sharing ideas and the latest concepts during our education sessions to follow.”
      The core education program began with Jim Adams, President of Performance Strategies, Inc., leading a session on “Fundamentals of an Incentive Travel Program.” Adams emphasized that incentives will always work if people want the prize, and he encouraged members of the Egyptian travel and tourism sector to figure out how to best position their destination to be the dream that makes incentive participants want to achieve business results. Adams then offered insight into rules structures and participant profiles. Other educational highlights from the Summit included the following presentations from Site International Board Members:

      • Rhonda Brewer, VP, Group Business Manager, Sales for Maritz Travel Company, led a session on how to build a better program by thoughtful attention to the participant engagement experience.

      • Paul Miller, Managing Director of Spectra, and Aoife Delaney, Director of Global Sales for Ovation Global DMC, reviewed the expectations of and challenges for destination management companies, reminding delegates that it is not enough to “think outside the box,” they must “live outside the box.”

      • Olga Navarro, Executive Director of ITB DMC, focused on how harnessing simple and readily available technology can strengthen organization brands and enhance communications with customers.

      • Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel Pvt. Ltd., discussed acknowledgement and recovery during crisis situations. He shared his personal story as an operator in India, stressing that crisis is the twin of opportunity. Rajeev urged Egypt’s industry leaders to create a private and public crisis management team.

      • Annamaria Ruffini, President & CEO of Events In & Out S.R.L, and Ping Liu, CEO of China Star Ltd., offered insight into what the buyers and participants coming from Europe and China want to see addressed as part of the request for proposal process and ground program.

      • Jonathan Richards, Sales Manager, Corporate Gifts Division for Maui Jim Sunglasses & Zeal Optics, explored the art of selecting gifts to enhance the overall event experience.

      Another highlight of the event was the presence of Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, Hisham Zaazou. Minister Zaazou provided an encouraging and promising message to the delegates and emphasized the need to show the world the true state of the tourism industry in Egypt, emphasizing the need to harness social media and on-point messaging. Minister Zaazou then honored Site with a 40th anniversary cake and thanked Site leaders for holding this esteemed event in their country. Site Managing Director Allison Summers stated, “We offer sincere appreciation to the Site members, host committee and office of the Ministry of Tourism. The Site leaders came to Egypt to provide education, but we believe that in the end we received much more than we gave. We elevated our personal awareness of the destination and met extraordinary professionals who are ready to deliver incentive groups incredible one of a kind experiences.” Site thanks its host venue The Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino as well as the lead event partners:Egypt Air, Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, Egyptian Tourism Federation, Egyptian Travel Agents Association,Euromic and the Four Seasons Cairo. Site also thanks the Host Committee Chair, Adel Zaki of ITTA Tours, and other committee members: Karim El Minabawy, Emeco Travel; Mohamed Farouk, Egypt Express Travel; George Fawzi, Excel Travel; Mohsen Abdine, Fly Well Travel; and Mona Talhami, Sakkara Tours. For more photos from the Executive Summit, please visit the Motivation Delivered Facebook page >>


       

       

       



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      Egypt Awarded the Prize for Best Booth at Holiday World Fair

      Egypt has been awarded the prize for Best Booth in terms of construction and best stand at Holiday World Fair held at Prague – Czech Republic, during the period from 7th to 10th of February. The fair organizers have announced Egypt`s award during the fair second day in the category of more than 60 m2. It is worth to be mentioned that Holiday World Fair is dedicated for trade and consumer. The fair has witnessed this year the participation of 46 countries. Also, the exhibitors number have reached 849 exhibitor including tourism associations, tour operators, hotels and media.

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      10 Year long study: mediterranean destinations growing

      Five popular travel destinations of the leisure tourists in the eastern Mediterranean area – Egypt, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey and Cyprus – belong to the strongest growing regions of world tourism
      despite all the difficulties of the past years. According to the statistics of T.A.I., the guest volume of this "Big-Five" rose in the past ten years by two-thirds (66 percent) from 40.5 million to a total of 67.2 million international arrivals. What is remarkable is that all the five countries, without exception, are on the plus side despite diverse crises and setbacks. On top of that, this quintet was able to increase their share in world tourism between 2003 and 2012 from 5.9 percent to 6.5 percent (681 million visitors increased to to 1,035 billion). The enormous escalations of arrivals are all the more remarkable since the tourism in the eastern Mediterranean area in the past decade has had it anything but easy. 2003 was characterized by SARS, Turkey was handicapped in 2006 by the PKK terror organization, the world financial and economic crisis made an impact in 2009 especially on Cyprus tourism. In 2011, Egypt and Tunisia went under due to political overthrows; in 2012 Greek's tourism was badly affected by the many strikes and demonstrations. Despite all of these obstacles, every year as of 2003 brought growth to the region, with exception of 2011, which however only showed a decline of -2.9 percent despite the more than 30 percent incursions in Egypt and Tunisia. The big winner in the "Big-Five" group in this ten year comparison is Turkey, with 31.8 million arrivals in 2012 and a gain in the past ten years of an incredible 138.2 percent. In a matter of growth, Egypt ranks closely behind. 11.5 million international arrivals were booked in the previous year, which in the ten year comparison means that a plus of 100.1 percent or rather a duplication took place. In absolute numbers, Greece was able to gain the third strongest, this position is entitled to Tunisia though, due to the percentage of growth. Israel was not included in this statistical consideration because it is not a traditional destination for package tourism but rather primarily for round trips and educational trips as well as independent travel. In the previous year, Israel recorded 2.89 million arrival

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      ITB Berlin 2013 mirrors the increasingly dynamic trends in the global travel industry

      The internet and virtualisation have accelerated the pace of development in the global travel industry. From 6 to 10 March 2013 ITB Berlin will be mirroring the industry’s increasingly dynamic market trends and providing a representative overview of global travel products and attractive niche markets. At the 47th edition of ITB Berlin 10,086 companies from 188 countries will be presenting their products and services on a display area covering 160,000 square meters The 26 halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds are booked up. A record number of exhibitors are represented on two-tier stands. The focus is on Indonesia, the official partner country of ITB Berlin, which is taking part with 120 exhibitors. Indonesia is represented in Halls 26 and 4.1, where visitors can witness colourful spectacles performed on stage. South Sudan, an independent state since 2011, is a newcomer to ITB Berlin. For the first time, exhibitors and travel agencies will be offering tours directly to the consumer on the weekend of the show. Dr. Christian Göke, COO, Messe Berlin: “More than a billion travelers worldwide and the increasing popularity of easy-to-find internet products have totally fragmented demand. People’s travel motivation and travel products have become increasingly diverse. The industry’s information and business needs are growing all the time. At ITB Berlin exhibitors and trade visitors can gain a representative and up-to-the-minute overview of the travel industry’s entire value chain. They will find growth and niche markets, find information on exploring new markets and ideas for innovative sales strategies.“ Bloggers on the march ITB Berlin is bringing international bloggers and exhibitors together at numerous panel discussions, workshops and lectures. A total of 250 bloggers from Germany and abroad are expected to attend. For the first time ITB Berlin is featuring a matchmaking event, which will be taking place on 7 and 8 March from 4.30 to 6 p.m. respectively in Hall 7.3. It gives 100 exhibitors an opportunity to meet the same number of international bloggers representing the adventure, luxury and family travel markets. This free service by ITB Berlin is aimed at helping exhibitors to improve their marketing of destinations and products. Travel Technology is transforming the market ITB Berlin features the largest range of travel technology products anywhere in the world. For years this section has been constantly expanding. Due to the high number of bookings this year hotel portals are also exhibiting in Hall 25. Around 150 companies from 25 countries are represented in Halls 6.1, 8.1 and 10.1, which will be exhibiting their IT-related services and product innovations for back and front offices in the travel industry as well as hotel software solutions and hotel booking portals. Exhibitors representing social media networks and mobile and analysis services are attending in particularly large numbers. Companies in the Mobile Travel and Social Media sections are presenting their innovations at the eTravel World in Hall 7.1c. This is where experts will be discussing industry topics such as “The opportunities and risks of the social web for the travel industry“ and ”More efficient travel using eTravel, navigation and mobile travel guides.“ The supporting programme of the eTravel World (Hall 7.1.c from 6 to 9 March) will feature more than 50 papers and workshops on two stages. Due to high demand, for the first time eTravel World events will also be taking place on the Saturday of the show (9 March). Pink Pavilion: Gay & Lesbian Travel This is the fourth year that companies exhibiting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tourism (LGBT) products will be represented in their own section in Hall 2.1. 56 companies from around the world are represented in the Pink Pavilion, including the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and many co-exhibitors. Visitors to the pavilion will find the world’s largest display of travel products for this market. They include city tours of Vienna, Prague, Tel Aviv as well as holidays in Argentina, Bulgaria, Florida, Gran Canaria, Maspalomas, Greece, India, Thailand and Cyprus. A colourful supporting programme featuring Queer Tango from Argentina and the Vienna Gay Café will round off the display. Travel and Adventure & Sustainable Travel The Adventure & Responsible Tourism Hall is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a colourful programme of events on the topic of socially responsible tourism. This year the focus in Hall 4.1b is on “Earth’s Wetlands & Geoparks – Celebrating Earth Heritage, Sustaining Local Communities“. Presented in English, the topic headings at the workshops, panel discussions and lectures are Wetlands, Wildlife Watching and Biodiversity. Various parks from different regions of the world will be introducing their eco-friendly concepts. Protecting wildlife is also one of the topics. Events in the Adventure & Responsible Tourism section in Hall 4.1b include discussions and lectures on human rights, tours for the deaf and developments in Haiti three years after the earthquake disaster. Azerbaijan, this year’s Convention & Culture Partner of ITB Berlin, will be presenting its sustainable tourism concept. CSR also features prominently at ITB Berlin. On 7 March 2013, the major think tank of the world’s leading travel trade show will again be holding its own CSR Day and highlighting strategies, best practices and the market potential of sustainable tourism. At the ITB Berlin Convention practical experts and leading scientists will be discussing and providing information on the latest developments in corporate social responsibility. Topics include tourist encounters with local residents, conflicts over water, a vital human resource, and protecting children from sexual exploitation. By printing zero-carbon copies of the ITB Berlin catalogue and Quickfinder Messe Berlin is demonstrating social responsibility and supporting a geothermal project in Indonesia, this year’s partner country. High demand from Asia, South America and the Arab countries Once again, demand from Asia is particularly high at this year’s ITB Berlin. Countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and China are represented on larger stands. Indonesia, the partner country, can be found in Halls 26 and 4.1. Hall 5.2b, where India is represented, is also booked up, so that exhibitors from this country are also occupying Hall 5.2a. Destinations such as Nepal and Bhutan are becoming increasingly popular and can be found in Hall 5.2a along with various independent exhibitors. Regulars at ITB Berlin include North Korea, which already attended last year. African countries are represented in Halls 20 and 21, among them South Sudan, which only gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and is a newcomer to ITB Berlin 2013. Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates have also booked their places at the world’s largest travel trade show. Iraq occupies an even larger stand compared with last year. Yemen and Libya are back after an absence from ITB Berlin. Every country from South America is represented at this year’s show. The travel industry’s international think tank This year the ITB Berlin Convention is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Over the past decade it has become the world’s largest event of its kind. This year the convention features an unprecedented number of leading international speakers. At 200 sessions more than 420 speakers, half of them from Germany, will be presenting the latest expert knowledge from the fields of tourism, politics and society. Examples of best practices will highlight ideas and solutions for current and future challenges. This year’s topics include Muslim travel, changes affecting the market for coach tours, water shortages that can potentially spark conflict between tourists and residents, and new technologies, a major trend. Azerbaijan, the Convention & Culture Partner of ITB Berlin 2013, will be hosting a colourful and diverse programme of events and spanning a bridge between Europe and Asia. At the world’s largest travel trade show Azerbaijan will be highlighting the beauty of its natural landscapes and cultural wealth. It will also be promoting itself as an attractive destination for culturally interested tourists as well as an outstanding venue for MICE events. At the ITB Berlin Convention, the international travel industry’s leading think tank, Azerbaijan will feature prominently at panel discussions attended by high-profile speakers that will focus on the country’s economic progress. The success of the ITB Berlin Convention led to the format being adopted last year in Brazil. The ITB Berlin Convention was the knowledge partner of the travel trade show A Feira de Turismo das Américas (ABAV) in Rio de Janeiro and presented a comprehensive programme of events on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tourism, corporate social responsibility, as well as MICE and business travel.

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  • 25/02/2013 - FEBRUARY 2013

    • Word of Wisdom of the Month

      "Dreams get you started....Discipline keeps you going."

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      Traveline will participate in ITB Berlin in the Egyptian Pavilion  Hall 23A, Booth 82

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      President of the European Council Visiting Egypt

      Invited by the Egyptian President, H.E Dr. Mohamed Morsi, the President of the European Council Mr. Herman Van Rompuy visited Egypt during the period from January 13th to January 15th. Mr. Van Rompuy held several meetings with many of Egypt`s key leaders on top of them the Egyptian President H.E Dr. Mohamed Morsi, His Holiness Pope Tawodros II at Abbaseya Cathedral, Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmed El Tayeb, and H.E Dr. Nabil Elaraby Secretary General of the League of Arab States. Moreover, Mr. Van Rompuy had a tour to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and Giza Pyramids accompanied by Mr. Hisham Zaazou the Egyptian Minister of Tourism. Mr.Van Rompuy commented after meeting the President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi “It is a great pleasure to be here in Cairo: this vibrant city with such a long history and a promising future. Let me start by conveying my warm thanks to you, Mr. President, for your invitation, and by thanking you for the very good exchange we just had”

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      Prince Kamal el Din Hussein Expedition to Gilf Kebir

      Under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism , the historical event of commemorating 80 years of Prince Kamal Din's Expedition to Gilf Kebir will take place from the 15th to 27th of March 2013. Prince Kamal el Din expedition's aim is to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the memorial plaque of Prince Kamal El Din Hussein who discovered the Gilf Kebir Plateau in the Western Desert of Egypt in 1925. The Prince was also the first to introduce the automobile into deep desert explorations, in that part of the world. Well-known national and international scientists will take part (as speakers) in this expedition and will present intriguing lectures on relevant topics. The expedition will be organised by Dabuka New Horizons and Darb 1718. The opening ceremony will be held at the Egyptian Automobile & Tourning Club in Cairo, then the guests will fly by charter flight to the New valley Oases where the real expedition starts.The tour encompasses 13 days of travel across the vast Western Desert, visiting the Gilf Kebir Plateau and Gebel Uweinat " In the footsteps of the Prince" . on the last day, the closing ceremony will take place at the Mena House Hotel at the foot of the Pyramids and the adventure will be sealed. In the Hollywood film "The English Patient" (winner of nine Oscars in1996), the main character was transporting Prince Kamal El Din's plaque to the Gilf Kebir Plateau in 1933, since this film this remote part of the Egyptian Desert has seen an increased interest by tourists,scintists,historiansas well as simple desert enthusiasts.

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      A New Record for crossing Africa from Cape Town to London passing through Egypt

      Dapuka Tourism Company and Endurance Rally Association will organize a new event for crossing Africa from Cape Town to London passing through Egypt, which will be included within Guinness Record. It is a team consists of two persons with a leadership of "Philip Yang" will cross about 1000 km driving Fiat Band Car , without stopping to cut the distance in less than ten days starting from Cape Town in South Africa to London passing through Cairo from 7 to 9 then exit from El Salloum to Libya .

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      Cairo Jazz Festival 21-23 March 2013

      Under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Cairo Jazz festival will be held from 21 to 23 March 2013 at Opera House, EL Hanager Cultural Centre , Darb 1718. Jazz teams from USA, Spain, Austria, Japan, France,Germany , Brazil, and Egypt will participate in the festival. Cairo Jazz Festival aims to widespread the mission of Jazz to reach the Egyptian family , In addition to the musical performance It presents many Jazz activities such as workshops, sessions, , and there will be the kids programs " Jazzinino".

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      Mobilization of the Dahshour World Heritage Site for Community Development

      UNWTO is currently implementing the tourism component of the project “Mobilization of the Dahshour World Heritage Site for Community Development”. The project, which was launched in April 2009 and will conclude in March 2013, is financed through the contribution made by the Government of Spain to establish the Millennium Development Goals Fund (MDG-F). Five UN Agencies (UNESCO, UNDP, UNIDO, ILO and UNWTO) are collaborating with national institutions (Ministry of Tourism, Supreme Council of Antiquities, Social Fund for Development, Industrial Modernization Centre and Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency) to support the reduction of human development disparities, with special reference to addressing the gender gap and achieving environmental sustainability. The project strategy works in two dimensions; first to reduce poverty of the local communities in Dahshour, and second to enhance the national institutional capacities so as to better protect and manage the archaeological and natural resources of the area. Dahshour is an agricultural community comprising five traditional villages to the South ofCairo which is home to the incredible Black, Bent and Red Pyramids (Sneferu Pyramids). Moreover, Birket Dahshour, a seasonal wetland, is situated directly to the southeast of the Dahshour Pyramids and attracts wintering birds. This unique mix of natural and cultural resources provides great potential for Dahshour to become a self-contained, high quality tourism, holiday and resort destination easily reachable from Cairo. Therefore, tourism development is central to all the main project activities, since it can play a fundamental role in creating sustainable livelihoods for the local communities, and provide the framework for the sustainable use and management of cultural and natural resources, as well as fostering the practice of local lifestyles. UNWTO, in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism has elaborated a Strategic Spatial Framework for Sustainable Tourism Development in Dahshour which goes in line with the National Sustainable Tourism Development Plan of Egypt and the Greater Cairo Development Project and provides guidance to the national institutions for the development and management of tourism plans for the natural and cultural resources of Dahshour, including the traditional rural lifestyles. It contains an in-depth analysis of the current tourism situation in Dahshour; evaluates its potential; identifies tourism products and markets for the short, medium and long term; and, recommends the creation of the Dahshour Rural Tourism Cluster. The Framework was approved by unanimous acclamation at a validation Workshop which brought together over 120 stakeholders, thus generating wide participation and ownership of the project with local community leaders including parliamentarians, senators and mayors of the five villages. In fact, as a result of the approval of the Strategic Spatial Framework, TDA has committed LE 50 million towards improved infrastructure for tourism in Dahshour including the setting up of a Visitor’s Centre and paving of roads and highways. Moreover, UNWTO is contributing to the development of sustainable tourism activities. Initially, a training needs analysis was carried out following a participatory approach which provided guidance on the skills more needed by the tourism sector. Train-the-trainer sessions followed for 82 local experts (43 men and 39 women) and training materials were developed. Subsequently, training courses were carried out on waste management,English language, customer care, hospitality skills, tourism awareness and tourism SME development, which involved over 3,000 people (2,067 men and 1,176 women, representing over 50 SMEs). Additionally, in-depth trainings for 25 tour guides were carried out. Recent missions by UNWTO have concentrated on readying the touristic assets for the domestic and international marketplace. Tour circuits have been designed and the infrastructure required, predominantly signage and landscaping, has been mapped and costed, with the implementation stage set to begin shortly. Lastly, approaches have been made to key national tour operators to not only promote Dahshour to their international markets, but to actively participate in the implementation and testing of the circuits, thereby utilising the commercial skills of a key section of the target market to maximise the attractiveness of the Dahshour circuits. These circuits form a base from which to promote half day, full day and multi-day itineraries to the domestic and international tourism markets. Therefore, it is envisioned that the Dahshour Rural Tourism Cluster will soon become an integrated living and viable nature, history, rural and village culture sanctuary; a prime destination on the Greater Cairo Tourism Circuit.

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