Judging from what the operators are saying, agents should be turning towards North Africa to bag a sale right now.
Ever-popular Morocco is performing well. In fact, The Adventure Company has seen sales for its Kasbah Trail trip rocket 800% year on year.
Tunisia is enjoying brisk business as punters recognise it as a bargain holiday destination, detached from the euro exchange rate nightmare currently playing out.
Egypt is also exploding in popularity as agents are dynamically packaging the country like never before. Avro said sales to Sharm el-Sheikh are more than 50% ahead year on year.
A spokesman for the charter flight only company said: “Agents have gone into dynamic packaging to Sharm in a big way due to the excellent quality all-inclusive units available.
“The traditional western Med charter destinations are seeing some of their market eroded by the new new kids on the block outside the eurozone, which are enjoying popularity this year.”
New for 2009, and no wonder, Cosmos is now offering flexi-stays to Sharm to cater for short breaks and longer trips.
Classic Collection Holidays has seen winter bookings to Egypt rise by more than 80%, while there has been more than a two-fold increase year on year for summer 2009 sales. Divers’ paradise Sharm is at the heart of this success, said head of purchasing Gary Boyer.
He explained: “Sharm accounts for just over 65% of all bookings from the dedicated Egypt brochure. Having seen the potential of the Red Sea resorts, we took the decision to increase the number of properties we featured in Sharm from eight in 2008 up to 14 for 2009. We’re pleased to say it has paid off.
“Among our best-selling properties are the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Hyatt Regency and Savoy Resort. Selling particularly well at the moment are all-inclusive options, as customers seek to maximise value for money. In turn this has lead to a higher average spend per person per holiday, meaning increased commission opportunities for agents.”
Attraction World sales and marketing director Tony Seaman is equally enthusiastic about Egypt. He said: “Egypt is performing exceptionally well for us and we’ve had to increase our product offering to meet demand from agents.
“In the current climate, customers are looking for holiday destinations where their money will go further. Egypt is a perfect choice. We’ve added new areas and attraction add-ons so that agents can include these in a booking and ensure they are maximising revenues at all times.”
Explore product manager for Africa Peter Eshelby said Tunisia is doing very well for the operator in the current climate. He said: “Sales have been largely unaffected by the recent exchange rate fluctuations and thus represent good value. The 12-day ‘Ancient Carthage and Desert Oases’ group tour is proving a particular winner for us.
“With the news of Tunisia’s agreeing to the open skies agreement, which will allow US, European and Arabic airlines to operate freely within its airspace, and plans for a new airport at Enfidha to open at the end of 2009, prices should tumble further in 2010.”
The Adventure Company managing director Claire Wilson said she has boosted the operator’s Morocco programme as it is offering good value at the moment, particularly the trekking trips which, by their very nature, include all accommodation and food.
She said: “Morocco has always been an important destination for us, so we’re pleased to now offer an even greater variety of itineraries.
“Many travellers who would normally go to Europe are finding Morocco offers fantastic value for money, plus it is a completely different culture but still within easy reach of the UK for a week-long break.”
Attraction World has added Tunisia to its portfolio and now offers nine tours for customers staying in Hammamet. These include city sightseeing, fishing, wine tasting and visiting ancient sites.
New hotels on the horizon in Cosmos’s Tunisia programme include the Royal Kenz in Port El Kantaoui, Tour Kalef in Sousse and El Mouradi Gammarth and Barcelo Carthage Palace, both in Gammarth. Cosmos is also looking to introduce Tunis for summer 2010 in order to offer its clients a twin-centre Tunisian holiday.
Sample package: Attraction World offers its new Sousse and Port El Kantaoui Tunisia trip for £59 per adult, £54 per child. Holidaymakers staying in Hammamet take this half-day trip to visit Sousse with its medina then on to the marina at Port El Kantaoui with free time or the option of a camel ride among the olive groves. (0871 700 8888, attractionworld.com)
Classic Collection is now offering the Savoy Resort Villas, a collection of nine luxury villas with two to five bedrooms, dining rooms, reception area, kitchen and two to four bathrooms plus seasonally heated pool.
UK Nile specialist Discover Egypt has just launched its 28-page 2009/10 brochure. The programme has 11 more hotels added, a new five-star Nile cruise vessel, Royal Viking, and an all-inclusive Nile cruise. Extra week add-ons to El Gouna or Sharm el-Sheikh are also now an option for twin-centre holidays and multi-centre pre-planned itineraries.
Planet Holidays is planning to introduce the Makadi Bay on the Red Sea near Hurghada in its next Egypt brochure (October 2009) along with the Movenpick Resort El Sokhna, just over an hour’s drive from Cairo. It will also offer Nile cruises departing every day of the week, boosting flexibility for add-ons.
All bookings to Sharm el-Sheikh with somewhere2stay.com this year qualify for a free shuttle transfer, winter and summer.
Attraction World has added a raft of Egypt tours including three in Aswan (for Abu Simbel and Rameses II) and a new scuba diving course.
Sample package: Planet Holidays offers a seven-night Nile cruise followed by three nights at the Sonesta St George Hotel in Luxor on a bed-and-breakfast basis, departing July 13 from Heathrow from £1,299 per person. (0871 8712234, planetholidays.net)
The Adventure Company has boosted its Morocco programme and added three new trips. Two are for families: the Active Morocco Teen Adventure and Camels and Casbahs (suitable for ages five and up); and the other is a hiking trip for adults, the Atlas Adventure.
Cosmos Tourama’s Highlights of Morocco is now offered with flights from Newcastle and Bristol as well as the existing Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester departures. Both tours are also available up to April 2010 and offered as a ‘Holiday without flights’ option, increasing flexibility.
Sample package: The Adventure Company offers the Active Morocco Teenage Adventure, a week’s activity-based trip through the Draa Valley, Todra Gorge and Ait Benhaddou, from £1,029 per person departing October 24. (0845 609 0890, adventurecompany.co.uk)
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