Discover Egypt is keen to distance itself from All Leisure Group in the wake of its former parent company’s collapse earlier this year.
“In our 18 years of trading, Discover Egypt has continued to be a robust and profitable brand,” said commercial director Philip Breckner.
“We operate a guaranteed departure on our Nile cruise boats throughout the winter months and with very “hands-on” management of the cruises, we pride ourselves in 100% positive customer feedback.”
Breckner purchased Discover Egypt from All Leisure Group on September 1, 2016, with his business partner David Wiles but he said: “David and I founded Discover Egypt and we had always operated as a separate and autonomous unit from All Leisure Group.”
Until the Egyptian revolution in January 2011, the Nile was a buoyant area for tourism. “Since 2011, it has been a rocky ride,” admits Breckner. “But despite many tour operators pulling out, we’ve kept in there and operated weekly Nile cruises, apart from a brief period in line with Foreign Office advice. Passenger numbers have been down, but we receive positive feedback from customers who do venture to Egypt. Many can’t believe they ever hesitated over going.”
He said the biggest challenge was in educating agents and consumers that most of Egypt was open for business, particularly since last year’s ban on UK flights to Sharm el Sheikh, a place many see as synonymous with Egypt.
“Security is tight in Egypt,” he said. “You do see police at tourist sites and at hotels, but I’ve just come back from Mexico, which had a much more prominent police presence and this didn’t seem to deter tourist visitors.
Discover Egypt sells a weekly cruise from Luxor to Aswan between September and May. It’s timed to take advantage of the one weekly direct flight between Heathrow and Luxor. At £899 for seven nights including flights, transfers, meals and excursions, the lead-in price is only around £100 more than it was when there were more flights into Luxor.
The company does not own the vessel used, the MS Mayfair, but Breckner said they had daily communication with the staff about tours, menus, health and safety.
“Agents who work with us, primarily independents, know we offer a good quality bucket list experience. But for those who are hesitant to book Egypt, we’re happy to offer training to help them sell it better and we will be running fam trips later this year.”
He added: “The more we can do with agents to bring the Nile back to life, the better.