By Nick Verrastro for Travel Market Report
Excerpts From Ms. Hilton
"Be honest and objective with your clients about travel to Egypt in the face of the ongoing unrest there," advised Egypt specialist Malaka Hilton, owner and president of Admiral Travel International in Sarasota, Fla.
When clients ask, agents should provide “an educated response, versus one that may come from their own fears,” Hilton told Travel Market Report.
“Too often we project personal feelings, rather than professional advice. I know all too well that, unless you specialize in this part of the world, it is hard to be objective,” said Hilton, who joined a U.S. travel industry delegation to Egypt and Jordan last year in the wake of regional unrest.
Recent clients to Egypt
Hilton has clients who recently returned from Egypt, as well as a group that traveled over the Christmas holidays. Both traveled without incident.
However, she also had been working with a family group of eight who had been excited about going to Egypt – but then were made uneasy by recent news of soccer riots and the brief kidnapping of two American tourists.
Hilton gave them a few days to think it over. She also offered them the travel assurance program she recommends to all Middle East travelers – the plan allows cancellations for any reason.
In the end, the family went ahead with their plans. “They they are excited again and just paid in full today. They are going in April,” Hilton told Travel Market Report last week.
Now is the time
Despite recurring political unrest and instability in Egypt, Hilton said she sees Egypt tourism “picking up.”
“My view is that now is the time to go. I tell clients the reasons why,” she said, citing smaller crowds and better value.
“At the same time, I stay on top of the current situations and advise them accordingly.”
What to expect
Insight Vacations president Marc Kazlauskas said returning clients are reporting that:
• Egyptians are appreciative that they are visiting their country;
• Crowds are minimal, allowing visitors to spend lots of time at important sites;
• The U.S. dollar buys a lot in Egypt.