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Discover Egypt reports surge in trade business

Discover Egypt has reported a dramatic surge in business from travel agents this year to about 80% of overall sales.

The tour operator said trade business has shot up this year from around 50% pre-pandemic.

Commercial director Philip Breckner put the increase down to increasing numbers of travel agents wanting to book Atol-protected packages through trusted, experienced suppliers as well as the operator’s actions during the Covid pandemic.

He said: “We have seen a complete turnaround in terms of trade sales. We are seeing much stronger trade support, making up around 80% of sales, which we never had before.

“Agents want to have the knowledge and confidence that they are booking Atol packages with operators that will look after them.”

With flight cancellations likely to continue into the summer, Breckner stressed agents were keen to work with suppliers which would look after their clients in the case of schedule changes.

He added: “During the pandemic we refunded immediately regardless of whether we had had the money back from the airlines.

Agents and clients have supported us and come back to us because we were honourable. And we answer our phone within minutes, six days a week.”

The Foreign Office relaxed its advice against all but essential travel to Egypt in September last year and in March this year also dropped its advisory against travel to southern Sinai.

Discover Egypt said business had significantly picked up since the start of the year, with availability now tight for summer and autumn.

EasyJet’s decision to pull Hurghada flights has also had a ‘knock-on effect’ on availability and hiked up prices of fares on other carriers, said Breckner.

He added: “There is little availability left [for this year]. We are seeing strong forward sales for spring and autumn 2023, and even for 2024.”

The tour operator is currently promoting a 14-night cruise between Cairo and Aswan, the entire length of the Nile, which has not fully accessible in recent years due to foreign office advice.

The cruise, from £3,845, visits Lower, Middle and Upper Egypt and offers the chance to see lesser known sights such as the Beni Hassan Tombs, Tuna El Gebel, Ashmunein and some of the Tel Amarna tombs, plus the Abydos Temple and the Temple of Hathor at Denderah.

“This [cruise] has not been fully on sale for the last few years. It’s exciting as a lot of clients have not been to Middle Egypt,” added Breckner, who said the prospect of seeing new sights was helping to drive business.

Egypt recently announced that archaeologists had uncovered artefacts at the necropolis of Saqqara near Cairo including mummies and bronze statues dating back 2,500 years, while the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum is due to open in Cairo later this year.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Luxor.

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