MasterCard to partner summer promotion to enhance Egyptian tourism

Credit card services provider, MasterCard (NYSE: MA) has announced that it is partnering a summer promotion campaign to promote tourism in Egypt.

The company said that it has entered into a collaboration with air carrier, Egyptair, to promote Egyptian tourism. As per the plan, financial services provider, MasterCard, and Egyptair, which is the flag carrier airline of Egypt, will jointly manage a cash-back promotion. The programme will be applicable to tourists travelling to Egypt from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The main benefit of the new project is that it will allow MasterCard cardholders to be eligible for 5 percent cash back when booking tickets online on the Egyptair website, To become eligible for the offer, MasterCard cardholders need to register on the Egyptair website when making flight bookings up until August 31st, 2012.

The cash-back promotion is expected to benefit travellers who intend to visit Egypt during this festive period and beyond.

Magda Metwally, general manager marketing for Egyptair, said, ‘The launch of this promotion with MasterCard underscores Egyptair’s support of the country’s tourism sector at a time of great optimism and change. Egypt has traditionally been a high appeal destination and we are confident that with this promotion tourists from within the region will once again be driven to discover and experience the wealth of culture and entertainment that Egypt has to offer.’

According to Magdy Hassan, country manager, Egypt, MasterCard Worldwide, the company has ranked Cairo in fifth place on a list of the Middle East and Africa’s top cities, in terms of expected international visitor spend in 2012. It also believed to have an annual growth potential of 8.4 percent.

Egypt to promote its tombs

Egypt, famous for its ancient tombs and the mystique that surrounds them, has said that it intends to open some of its tombs to tourists.

The nation is to showcase the tomb of Queen Meresankh III for visitors to explore.

The tourism industry in Egypt was destroyed by the recent uprisings, and the country is now making efforts to win back those lost tourists. By opening up the tombs to the public, the authorities are expecting to increase the number of visitors to the country, lured by the fascination and significance that the tombs hold in ancient Egypt.

Later this year, the tomb of Meresankh, which means ‘lover of life’, is to be opened to the public for the first time in nearly 25 years. In addition, five tombs of high priests, which have been buried under the desert sands for decades, will also be opened and available for public visits. The priests are said to have occupied high offices during the reign of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Meresankh’s tomb lies close to the Great Pyramid of her grandfather, the pharaoh Khufu, better known as Cheops. She met an untimely death and was placed in her own tomb. American archaeologist, George Reisner, who discovered the tomb, wrote of it, ‘Our eyes were first startled by the vivid colours of the reliefs and inscriptions around the northern part of this large chamber. None of us had ever seen anything like it.’

The authorities are also planning other similar moves to attract tourists. To the south of Cairo, the famous Serapeum at Sakkara, a massive underground temple where sacred bulls were thought to have been buried, is also to be opened to promote tourism.

Ali Asfar, director general of archaeology on the Giza plateau, said, ‘We want to give people a reason to come back, to give them something new.’

Visit the World’s Seven Wonders… But Which?

Since ancient times man has had a fascination with listing the world’s must-see wonders, but there can be some confusion for the modern traveller intent on ticking off the top seven current wonders from his bucket list.

The ancient civilisations that were responsible for compiling the first and most famous Seven Wonders, not surprisingly, chose their own feats of creativity and engineering over the natural wonders that had been formed by nature. Unfortunately, lighthouses, colossi and temples were all unable to pass the test of time, and only one of the seven, the Great Pyramid of Giza, near Cairo, Egypt, still stands to be wondered over by visitors today.

Ask for opinions on what comprises the seven wonders of the modern world, and you are likely to become embroiled in a varied, and possibly inconclusive, debate. For the ancients, ‘the world’ only amounted to a region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean where their wonders were all gathered, so the first consideration is whether the vastly increased world with which we are familiar should be restricted to only seven wonders. For the purposes of this article we are going to assume that however many wonders there are in the world, it is the top seven that people are most interested in, especially as that number has taken on an almost mystical significance where ‘wonders’ are concerned.

But do we, like our ancient forefathers, list only impressive edifices constructed by mankind, or do we expand to include the, often very much more impressive, natural creations?

Some years back, US news station, CNN, listed its Seven Wonders of the Natural World as the Grand Canyon in the USA, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, the harbour at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Mount Everest in Nepal, the Northern Lights, seasonally viewable from a number of destinations in the Arctic Circle, the Paricutin Volcano in Mexico, and the Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. That list provides plenty of diverse destinations to occupy even the most ardent traveller for some time to come, but while these can all quite rightly claim to be ‘Wonders’, there are some notable omissions that other opinions might want to see included at the expense of some of those listed. The great dunes of the Sahara Desert for example, or the lakes, mountains and geysers of Yellowstone Park.

And if we take our lead from those that compiled the ancient list, and draw up a new list based on mankind’s own recently constructed creations, suggestions that other sources have noted for inclusion are the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Empire State Building in New York, The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, the Channel Tunnel between the UK and France, the Itapu Dam on the Brazil/Paraguay border, the Panama Canal, Panama, Central America and the North Sea protection works in the Netherlands.

But a worldwide vote taken in 2007 probably came up with a list of accessible wonders that would most resonate with today’s traveller. It blends man’s ingenuity with the romance of history, as well as providing the traveller with the opportunity to visit some of the world’s most stunning and diverse locations. That list included the Colosseum, in Rome, the Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru, the Great Wall of China, the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, the Mayan  city of Chichen Itza in Mexico, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the Taj Mahal in India.

It is clear that in a world full of many wonders there is no absolute or definitive list of the seven best, it is down to the traveller to make his or her own personal choice. So feel free to use this article’s comment option to list your own seven wonders.  You may agree or disagree with the options listed here, add new ones of your own or mix and match options from different lists.

Who knows, perhaps these contributions will provide enough uniformity for us to be able to confidently say that by popular choice, these are the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Egypt attempts to bring back tourists

In an attempt to entice tourists back, following rebellion and violence in recent months, Egypt and Tunisia have begun promotional campaigns. These campaigns will show these holiday destinations as safe and attractive and hopefully instil confidence in tourists that have stayed away.


‘Welcome to the country of peaceful revolution’ is the slogan that Egypt has decided to use following a violent beginning to the year with protests against former president Hosni Mubarak.


The campaigns have been highlighted in the global trends report by market analyst Euromonitor International as part of the World Travel Market (WTM) opening today in London.


WTM chairman Fiona Jeffery said: ‘The speed at which the marketing campaigns have been launched demonstrates the importance the new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia have put on inbound tourism for their long-term economic future.


‘Tourism can help build up these countries’ new democracies and has the potential to do so across all the Arab Spring countries.’


Also named by the WTM 2011 industry report were up and coming holiday destinations for the coming years; Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Argentina (SLIMMAs).


Following investments in ‘infrastructure and natural beauty’ could see this group of countries overtake rival top tourist destinations Brazil, Russia, India and China.


Tourism holds key to Egypt’s new democratic dawn

Travel and tourism will play a crucial role in Egypt’s future, as the country ushers in a new era of democracy and opportunity, with landmark presidential elections set for November.

The World Travel Awards (WTA) noted that tourism remains the lifeblood of the Egyptian economy, accounting for 1 in 8 jobs and 12 percent of the nation’s output.

WTA also suggested that now is an excellent time to visit Egypt before the crowds return, and is taking the lead by hosting its Africa & Indian Ceremony in Sharm El Sheikh on September 16, 2011.

The prestigious ceremony, the organisation’s first to be held in Egypt, will take place at SOHO Square, the luxury entertainment complex within Savoy Group, and will attract the leading travel and tourism brands from across Africa and the Indian Ocean as they compete for the most influential accolade in travel.

After months of intense voting covering over 2,000 categories, the nominees have been whittled down to the elite few, and include Ritz Carlton, South African Airways, Conrad Hotels, Shamwari, &Beyond, Six Senses, and Four Seasons.

Graham E. Cooke, President & Founder, World Travel Awards, predicts that Egypt’s star attractions will lead to a swift recovery of its travel and tourism economy with the impending elections.


He said: “World-class destinations have an incredible ability to bounce back from adversity. Egypt is a remarkably resilient destination, boasting an incredible array of attractions from the Pyramids of Giza and the temples of Luxor to the spectacular diving of the Red Sea and the beaches of Sharm El Sheikh, the City of Peace.”


“Egypt is entering an exciting new dawn of hope and opportunity. And by attracting the travel industry elite to Sharm El Sheikh for our awards, we aim to showcase not only its world-class attractions and facilities but how tourism is serving as a force for good and a catalyst for change,” he added.


Emad Aziz, Chairman Savoy Sharm el Sheikh said: “I am honored that World Travel Awards is hosting its 2011 Africa&Indian Ocean Ceremony at The Savoy, Sharm-El-Sheikh. It will provide a great opportunity to showcase the attractions and facilities of our beautiful region to the travel and tourism world.”


“Our region offers a wealth of incredible attractions on our doorstep, all in a laid-back desert atmosphere. Sharm also serves as an ideal base to discover the ancient treasures of Luxor and Cairo,” he added.


Egypt will also be hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s World Tourism Day, which will be celebrated in the city of Aswan on September 27.

On a recent visit to Egypt, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General, gave the green light saying, “Throughout my visit, it has been very clear that the Egyptian tourism sector is fully operational and ready to receive visitors.”

For more information about World Travel Awards 2011 Africa&Indian Ocean Ceremony and bookings, visit

Save 50%* off Nile cruises 04 July 2011 – October 2012

7-night Nile cruise holiday from £699 for first traveller and £349.50 for the second

A Nile cruise is not just a relaxing sail down the Nile – it offers holidaymakers access to the world’s largest open air museum and some of the most amazing ancient archeological monuments and sites that still stand after 6,000 years.

Discover Egypt

is currently offering a special saving on a selection of Nile cruises – a seven night Nile cruise for two with the second person paying half the price.

Enjoy a full board seven night cruise on board the five star Viking Princess with ten guided excursions, return flights and transfers in resort from just £699 for the first person and £349.50 for the second person.
Packages on board other ships, the Royal Viking, have prices starting from £899 with second traveller from £449.50 and Alexander the Great, from £1,399 and £699.50 respectively. Half price single supplement offers are applicable on board the Viking Princess and Royal Viking.

This offer is valid for travel between 04 July 2011 and October 2012 on selected departures from Gatwick. Flights from Birmingham, Heathrow or Manchester are available at a supplement.

These are some of the highlights that holidaymakers will visit along the way:
• Valley of the Kings – one of the most famous archeological sites in the world and a World Heritage site since 1979. The valley is a burial site where tombs were constructed for the Pharaohs for 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC. Its most famous tomb is that of Tutankhamun, discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.
• Temple of Hatshepsut – the temple of Queen Hatshepsut is close to the Valley of the Kings and is one of the most significant monuments of ancient Egypt. Considered the closest Egypt came to Classical Architecture and marked a turning point in the architecture of Ancient Egypt. Queen Hatshepsut was a rare female Pharaoh (late 16th century – 1482 BC) and considered by Egyptologists as one of the most successful.
• Valley of the Queens – the burial place for the wives of Pharaoh’s and often their children, located close to the Valley of the Kings. The area is said to hold seventy tombs that are all lavishly decorated, one of the most famous being the tomb for Queen Nefertari carved out of the rock.
• Colossi of Memnon – this is one of the most imposing ancient monuments on the West Bank and features two huge stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III that have sat in the Theban necropolis for 3,400 years, just across the Nile from Luxor.
• Temple of Karnak – the Temple complex of Karnak is the largest ancient religious site in the world and is a vast mix of ruined temples, chapels, pylons and other buildings, including the Great Temple of Amun and a massive structure started by Pharaoh Ramses II between 1391-1351 BC).
• Temple of Luxor – another spectacular temple complex in the city of Luxor that was started by Queen Hatshepsut, with later additions added by Amenhotep III and Rameses II.
• Temple of Horus (Edfu) – located near the city of Edfu this is the second largest temple in Egypt after Karnak and one of the best preserved. It is dedicated to the falcon god, Horus and was built in the Ptolemaic period between 237 and 57 BC.
• Temple of Sobek (Kom Ombo) – located 40 kms from Aswan in the town of Kom Ombo this temple was built in 180 BC with later additions added in Roman times. The temple stands on what was an important crossroads between the caravan route from Nubia and trails from the gold mines in the eastern desert. On a bend in the Nile, a spot favoured by crocodiles, the temple was dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god.
• Temple of Philae – Philae is an island in the Nile close to Aswan and the previous site of an ancient Egyptian temple complex. The complex was relocated in a major feat of engineering to the nearby Agilka Island after it was nearly lost under water in the 1960s due to the construction of the High Dam. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.