With its reliable sunshine, numerous resorts and clear waters, the Red Sea has become renowned as the perfect beach break destination.
However, it also sits within spitting distance of some of the world's great cultural wonders, giving tourists the chance to combine two kinds of holiday to make one great-value trip.
The other great news for agents selling these tailor-made twin-centre breaks is that they are defying the trend for late booking.
Libra Egypt product manager Costas Stylianides said: "Consumers have become wise to the package market and are leaving it later to book in the hope of bagging a bargain. Tailor-made packages use scheduled and internal flights and won't drop in price much, so they aren't suffering in the same way."
Operators selling the Red Sea area have a wide variety of itineraries to choose from, which can help to give you some ideas, but don't forget that they can tailor-make packages to suit your clients' preferences, too.
Luxor and Hurghada
The wide range of domestic flights available at reasonable prices make it easy to combine any of the popular Egyptian Red Sea resorts with a more cultural destination, though some twin-centres can work with transfers by road.
Classic Collection's most popular combination is Luxor and Hurghada, with only a four-hour road transfer between the two. Luxor has a wealth of sights to explore, including:
- Karnak Temple
- Valley of the Kings
- Valley of the Queens
- Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Visitors can take trips on horse-drawn caleches, felluca boats or even hot air balloons, before heading off to relax on the beach at Hurghada.
Sample package: Classic Collection Holidays offers four nights at the boutique hotel Al Moudira in Luxor and seven nights at Oberoi, Hurghada from £1,375 per person this June. Price includes accommodation on a bed-and-breakfast basis, return flights, private transfers and entry visa. (0800 008 7288, or use the booking enquiry form)
Cairo and the coast
Cairo spoils visitors for choice, with the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Egyptian Museum just some of the highlights. Internal flights can twin the city with any Red Sea resort, but the northern resort of Ain Soukhna is just 90 minutes away by road.
Sample package: Peltours offers three nights' bed and breakfast in the Marriott in Cairo and three nights' half-board in the Stella Grand in Ain Soukhna from £799 per person between June and August, including flights, transfers and a guide in Cairo. (020 8371 5200, peltours.com)
Jordan and Egypt
Egypt doesn't have the monopoly on fascinating sights - it's easy for clients to see the wonders of Jordan before relaxing on the beach, either in Jordan itself at Aqaba or just a short catamaran trip away at Taba Heights in Egypt. In Jordan, tourists can see Petra, Wadi Rum, the mosaics at Madaba and the Dead Sea.
Sample package: Libra Holidays' Marriott Connection itinerary includes nine nights at the Taba Heights Marriott, two at the Marriott Petra and two at the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort and Spa on the Dead Sea from £1,149 including flights, transfers and English-speaking guides. (0871 222 8181, libraholidays.co.uk)
Why stop at twin centre? For those taking a two-week holiday, it's perfectly possible to visit three areas in one trip. Clients who really want to immerse themselves in the history of Ancient Egypt can visit the many sights of Cairo and Luxor before heading off to the Red Sea to rest their feet and brains on a sunlounger.
Sample package: Longwood Holidays offers bed-and-breakfast accommodation for three nights in Sofitel Le Sphinx, Cairo; four nights in Steigenberger, Luxor and seven nights in Hilton Dreams, Sharm el-Sheikh, from £1,099 on June 11, including flights from Heathrow with Egyptair. (020 8418 2525, Longwood agents site)
Cruise and stay
The classic Nile cruise is high on many holidaymakers' wish lists. Suggest clients see the sights of Luxor, Karnak, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Edfu and Dendera by ship and then relax on the coast afterwards.
Panorama has now widened its Cruise and Stay options so that a Nile cruise can be combined with any Thomas Cook property in Hurghada, Makadi Bay, Soma Bay, El Gouna, Marsa Alam or El Quseir.
Again, those staying longer can really pack a lot in to a fortnight by opting for a Nile cruise, a stay in Cairo and time in the Red Sea region.
Sample package: Thomas Cook offers seven nights' full-board on the four-star Sentido MS Mahrousa and seven nights at the three-star Arena Inn in El Gouna from £715 including flights, departing Manchester on June 17. (0871 230 2403, thomascookworld.com)
Sample package: Libra Holidays' Egyptian Wonders itinerary features a seven-night Nile cruise followed by two nights at the Sofitel Le Sphinx, Cairo and four nights at the Sofitel Sharm from £859, including international and domestic flights. (0871 222 8181, libraholidays.co.uk)
Israel has its own Red Sea beach resort in Eilat, which can provide the perfect location for a spot of relaxation after a tour of the attractions in the rest of the country.
From November, Longwood Holidays will be offering its Holyland Highlights tour, including visits to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Tel Aviv and Jericho, which can be extended with a stay at Eilat on the Red Sea coast.
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