Travel History

Luxor’s heydays

This article was published in February 1996 in Al Ahram Weekly newspaper.  I was in Luxor, in Upper Egypt, when I met with the owner of the oldest bookstore in Luxor, Abdallah Gaddis, who died two years after this interview. Gaddis has withstood the fluctuating tides of tourism from World War II to the post-Gulf War era and I decided to flip, with him, through the pages of history.

Gaddis bookstore at Winter Palace Hotel

Gaddis bookstore at Winter Palace Hotel

Abdallah Gaddis was barely one year old when Howard Carter discovered the treasures of Tutankhamun in 1921 but he can relay his father’s impression of the spectacular flux of tourists Luxor witnessed at the time. “It was the most successful year ever. Hundreds of the aristocrats and the members of the press flocked here to witness and cover the discovery,” says Gaddis, who runs the shop his father opened in 1907.

One of the historical photographs taken by Abdallah's father. Howard Carter unwrapping Tutankhamun's mummy

One of the historical photographs taken by Abdallah’s father. Howard Carter unwrapping Tutankhamun’s mummy

A seasoned member of the tourist industry, Gaddis has welcomed widely different customers during many seasons, eras and wars into the Gaddis bookstore that neighbors the legendary Winter Palace Hotel. He’s shared conversation and books with the European elite, the habitués of modern package-tours, with bargain-hunters and backpackers. And despite his versatility, he is definitely nostalgic about the “good old days.” “My clients were the world’s richest and most elegant aristocrats; the cream of the society,” recalls the 74-year old Gaddis.  “They toured the sites in their best clothing; women in furs and elegant dresses and the men in suits.”

Customers making purchases in the 1940s

  Customers making purchases in the 1940s

 

Customers in 1956

Customers in 1956

Early visitors preparing for a flight  over ancient monuments in Luxor

Early visitors preparing for a flight over ancient monuments in Luxor

 

But times were not always peachy. The wars Gaddis and his father witnessed often struck bad blows to the business. But his father did manage to expand the store during World War II, when the British and American tenants of the surrounding three shops did not return to Egypt for the tourist season. “The owner asked my father if he would like to rent all three premises. He agreed and paid a nominal price for them.”

His father once sold silver and gold ware, learning trade secrets from his friends in Cairo’s Khan Al-Khalili. He then turned the shops into one bookshop, specializing in books and photographs about Egypt, and particularly monuments. “My father was a pioneer in a field hitherto monopolized by Greeks and Jews, says Gaddis.

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Books, post cards, souvenirs and photos are among the products sold by Gaddis bookstore

 

When Gaddis took over the bookshop in the later 1930s, he would often keep it open past midnight, long after the crowds of tourists had retreated to their hotels. “My clients could then quietly select their books and decide which photographs appealed to them. “ Not only was his bookstore frequented by the wealthy, but the wealthy were willing to spend heavily on his books, making LE1,000 or LE2,000 purchases,  “a fortune in those days,” says Gaddis.

He remembers that “only one Maltese officer and 25 Egyptian soldiers” guarded the monuments of Luxor, Karnak and the Nile’s west bank in the 1930s, and only 40 guides or torgomen, toured the sites with visitors. “They wore traditional caftan, tarboush or emma (turban)” he recalls. “They were cultured though not necessarily university graduates. They were enthusiastic readers of ancient history of which acquired profound knowledge. And they spoke English or French or both.”

He recalls that the Winter Palace Hotel would have the guides work in rotation. If a group of 50 tourists arrived, for example, four were allocated one tour guide at LE2 a day. “At the end of the trip the visitors usually give an envelope to the guide containing LE100 in appreciation of his efforts. That was a good income then. “But conditions for the torgomen changed in the 1960s when they became too old to work.

Winter Palace Hotel, one of the oldest in Luxor and Egypt www.sofitel.com

Winter Palace Hotel, one of the oldest in Luxor and Egypt
http://www.sofitel.com

Luxor also had a fixed tourist season at the time; from mid-December to the end of March, and the hotels would open only during those four months, recalls Gaddis. Egypt was still under the British occupation and Luxor was not heavily populated. During off-season, he says, “it was unusual to see a single pedestrian before noon. Only a few fruit, vegetable and clothing shops were open.”

This changed after President Gamal Abdel Nasser made a visit to Luxor in November of 1952. “He met with local businessmen,” Gaddis said, “and we told him that we wanted the hotels to stay open all year round. When Nasser asked us if we could guarantee tourists throughout the year, we suggested carrying out of a two-year experiment. It proved so successful that all the hotels opened in the summer and the winter.

A flying boat moored outside the Winter Palace

  A flying boat moored outside the Winter Palace Hotel

But business has never been good during wars, says Gaddis. A few years before the outbreak of World War II, a worldwide economic depression drastically affected tourist movement to Egypt, and consequently Luxor. “In place of wealthy tourists,” said Gaddis, “British soldiers were brought in in large numbers by Eastmar Travel to see the monuments of Upper Egypt.”

At that time as well, he says, Egyptians began to visit Luxor. “They would leave Cairo and Alexandria in the winter and spend at least two months at the Winter Palace.” While tourists from abroad only trickled to Luxor in the war years, it was only four years after the war that Germans, British and Americans came in large numbers. “The situation improved,” says Gaddis. “Tourism was at a peak at the time of the July 1952 Revolution.

Another peak, says Gaddis, was during the 1960s with the construction of the Aswan High Dam and following UNESCO’s decision to relocate the temples of Abu Simbel. “There was a tremendous influx of visitors for three years. They were anxious to take a last look at the temples at their original sites before they were dismantled and transported to other locations. Hotels were full.”

The early days of Gaddis & Co

The early days of Gaddis & Co

Gaddis &Co in 2007, 100 years later

Gaddis &Co in 2007, 100 years later

 

But then there was the June 1967. “On the day the war broke out, there was not a single empty room. We had three bad months before tourism revived,” says Gaddis whose shop was exempted from rent for one year by the government.

Gaddis believes that the most severe slump came during the Gulf War, and to an extent not even seen during the wars with Israel. “When the Americans shot the first bullet in the Gulf, there was not a single tourist in Luxor. Conditions improved after the war but then terrorism followed and tourism dropped again.”

Today, books about Egypt in English, French, German and Arabic fill the shelves of the bookshop and potential buyers have a large choice of publications, from the famous Blue Guide and Insight Guides to specialized books, souvenir publications and coffee-table editions. Never before have the shelves of Gaddis  been so heavily stocked.

For more information about the history and products of this historical bookstore, visit http://www.gaddis-luxor.co.uk/gaddis_shop/index.htm

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Categories: Egypt, Travel History, Uncategorized, Upper Egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Luxury on the Nile

The Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam recently held together with Lufthansa Group a joint customer event targeting their loyal clients. The event was designed for the bookers and regular buyers of the Cairo Marriott and Lufthansa to update them on the latest offers and facilities presented by both entities to ease their work process and to help them achieve rewarding experiences for themselves and for their fellow associates and clients.

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Marriott and Lufthansa teams on the Royal Staircase of Salon Royal 

The event started with a cocktail reception at the Salon Royal followed by a dinner and presentation at the historical Eugenie Salon. The highlight of the event was a lecture by Dr. Nada Rashed, member of the Association of Reflexologists (AOR) and of the Reflexology Association of Canada (RAC) titled, “Stress: understand- acknowledge and release,” where she discussed several techniques that would help relieving and dealing with stress.

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A breathtaking view of the historical golden arches of Gezirah Palace

Photo: Cairo Marriott Hotel

Overlooking the Nile, in the exclusive area of Zamalek, in the heart of Cairo, Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino is a harmonious combination of a historical Royal Palace and a complex of twin towers with a connecting garden terrace. The five-star property provides full service amenities ideal for a weekend getaway, family vacation and business travel, including luxurious rooms and suites, fine restaurants, 24-hour business center, health club and  fitness room, an indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna and tennis courts.

Marriott’s historical palace, formerly Palace Al Gezirah, is part of Egypt’s heritage. It was built by Khedive Ismail as a guest palace for the Suez Canal inauguration celebrations in 1869. It housed European monarchs, including Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, and it was to be the venue of the first performance of Verdi’s Opera Aida.

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Al Gezirah Palace by the Nile was built by Khedive Ismail of Egypt in 1869

Photo: Cairo Marriott Hotel

Over the years, famous ceremonies have taken place at the Palace, including the wedding of Khedive Ismail’s son, which lasted 40 days, the wedding of the daughter of Prime Minister Nahhas Pasha in the 1930s and a boat party in front of the Palace as part of H.M King Farouk and H.M Queen Nariman’s wedding celebrations.

The architecture and construction of the Palace reflected Khedive’s passion for neoclassical style popularized in Europe. For the design elements, he engaged the services of Austrian architect Julius Franz (later Franz Bey) and De Curel Del Rosso, who also designed the Abdin Palace.

The German Carl von Diebitsch was contracted as the Palace’s interior designer. He designed the décor, as well as prefabricating the furniture, draperies and other internal fittings.

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The Garden Promenade Café which is now a wonderful open-air area

Photo: Cairo Marriott Hotel

Since it began operating as a hotel, the Palace has changed hands several times. In 1879, when operating as the exclusive Gezirah Palace Hotel, it was confiscated by the state due to outstanding debts and the hotel was taken over by the Egyptian Hotels Company.

In 1919, it was sold to Habib Lotfallah, a Syrian landlord who had settled in Cairo, for 140,000 EGP.  Then in 1961, during the time of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Palace was nationalized and became the Omar Khayyam Hotel.

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After the revolution of 1952, the Gezirah Palace was transformed to Omar Khayyam Hotel Photo: Cairo Marriott Hotel

In the 1970s, the property was handed over to Marriott International for management. They restored the original Palace, equipping it with all amenities befitting a five-star hotel and flanking it with two modern towers housing 1,087 rooms.

Today, the Palace is all that remains of the estate. Many of its rooms and furniture have been preserved and restored to their original splendor, and now serve as reception rooms and lounges. This includes many of Von Diebitsch’s decorative elements that can be seen in several locations throughout the Marriott.

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The historical Palace Royal marble staircase is considered the ultimate in architectural detail and lavish decoration Photo: Cairo Marriott Hotel

Categories: Cairo, Egypt, Travel History | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Queen of the Nile: A Historical Tribute to a Landmark Hotel

Cairo has undergone so much change in the last 40 years that it is difficult to visualise what it once was. Before a decree was promulgated for the protection of the historical buildings of Cairo, a great many hotels were demolished to make way for new ones. Semiramis was one of them. This was a great loss because it was landmark of the city, a meeting place of the intelligentsia, a place where afternoon tea on the broad open terrace overlooking the Nile was a tradition. In the foyer air was circulated with huge ceiling fans, and Nubian servants with red tarbooshes and tight cummerbunds hurried hither and thither serving clients.

The book, Queen of the Nile: A Historical Tribute to a Landmark Hotel, was written by Adel Sabet, King Farouk’s biographer and cousin, and is not only a book on the history of a hotel in its heyday, but shows to what extent it was witness to the history of tourism in Egypt; what travellers were like before World War I; their favourite tourist destinations, and how all this changed in the period between the two world wars and afterwards.

Semiramis Hotel was inaugurated in 1907 in Kasr El-Doubara, an area of gardens and gracious town houses. The ruling Khedivial family made the beautifying and developing of the cities of Egypt matters of priority and in Kasr Al-Doubara and its Garden City extension the process reached something of a climax.

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The front of the Old Semiramis Hotel

There are no gardens in Garden City today, and its winding circular roads are so congested with traffic that it is difficult to visualise a time in which it deserved its name. The book describes the large number of aristocrats who lived there and the hotel that was designed to be palatial, with a luxury unexcelled, a home for royal visitors, prestigious celebrities and world figures.

The hotel was the brainchild of Swiss hotelier Bucher-Durrer who owned a chain of hotels in Europe including Rome Quirinale, the Palace in Milan and several prestigious hotels in Switzerland. He purchased 6,000 square metres overlooking the Nile in the vicinity of Kasr Al-Doubara, in a prime position between the palace of the Walda Pasha and Kasr Al-Nil Palace.

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Charles Baehler, former owner of the hotel

During the last years of the 19th and those of the early 20th century, Cairo attained a social apogee. To the well-heeled, affluent and well-connected, a winter in Egypt was a social adventure difficult to resist. “Cairo’s winter world was one of great receptions and intensive socialising,” the book says. “Every major hotel held a splendid ball at least once a week. Thus the Semiramis Ball was on Saturday, Shepheard’s on Wednesday and so on. In the great lobbies of the hotels, be-fezzed pashas and great archaeologists mixed with world famous leaders of society, distinguished authors, stars of the entertainment world and the swinging aristocracy of Edwardian Europe.”

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The wife of Agha Khan is greeted by the hotel’s famed jeweller, Onning Alixanian; Aristotle Onassis (in the middle) is shown the hotel on his arrival; the original price list and services

With the outbreak of World War I, an era ended and another started as far as the history of Egypt and Egyptian tourism was concerned. The book reveals that “Cairo took no precautions and uninhibitedly carried on its way of life. But the tourists were replaced by a new kind of visitor. The city had become the main war base of the Eastern Mediterranean battle area. Gatherings in Cairo included Australian and New Zealand armed forces, as well as soldiers from the Indian Empire and troops brought back from the muddy battlefields of northern France. The battles in the Aegean swelled the number of victims of the blood baths of Flanders and Piacardy, which claimed the lives of many young men who had attended the dancing balls of the Semiramis and other Cairo hotels.”

One of the luxury bedrooms

One of the luxury bedrooms

The reception area

The reception area of the hotel

The Queen of the Nile describes how tourists — a different kind of tourist — returned to Egypt after the war. They were less affluent and could no longer afford prolonged winters. The aristocrat from Europe was replaced by a breed of war profiteers. Moreover, Egypt had become a monarchy and the book points out that “monarchies tend to stimulate tourism”.

The tomb of Tutankhamun in the 1920s was a tourist bonanza. There is no doubt about that. The treasures of the Pharaonic king caught the imagination of the world and tourists flocked to gaze in wonder at the superb workmanship of Ancient Egyptian goldsmiths and the incredibly rich funerary furniture. Egypt also became a favourite destination for literary figures like Britain’s Agatha Christie, Finnish Mika Waltari who wrote his best-selling Sinouhi the Egyptian, Freya Stark, the noted traveller and explorer, and French writers like Jean Cocteau, Andre Gide, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Celebrities included Agha Khan with his wife who came regularly, and film stars Douglas Fairbanks and his wife. With the eruption of World War II everything changed. Cairo became the home of a large expatriate British community because it was the Middle East supply centre, and the book describes how the Semiramis and other hotels of Cairo “offered solace, comfort and entertainment to the embattled crowd of resident expatriates. They served the morale of both civilian and military personnel snatching a few hours leave from the battlefields almost within sound of the guns of Alamein where men were dying”. They began to provide a new service: ballrooms. Theatres sprang up for entertainment, and Cairo became one of the most prestigious entertainment centres of the world.

After the war, the Semiramis reverted to its role as a premier luxury hotel. Some of its old and faithful clients like the Agha Khan drifted back. A great Ismaili rally was organised in the ballroom. It was attended by Prince Ali Khan and his companion, the glamorous Rita Hayworth. The event coincided with the polo season. This prestigious game attracted the visit of the polo-playing Maharaja of Jaipur who came accompanied by his attractive wife. For a short space of time, Semiramis became the home of a dazzling group of international polo players.

Semiramis roof became the ‘in’ place for Egyptian upper-class society. To quote the text of Queen of the Nile, “Under a full moon, one danced in a magic world overlooking the Nile. One tangoed, waltzed, fox-trotted those intimate dances of the recent past. One held one’s partner in one’s arms and romance blossomed under the stars.” Egypt’s royal family were frequently to be seen there: King Farouk and his sister Princess Fayza.

Semiramis Hotel and Shepheard Hotel overlooking the Nile

Semiramis Hotel and Shepheard Hotel overlooking the Nile

After the revolution of 1952, the pace and quality of life changed. The call for a new modern establishment on the bank of the Nile was heard. Old-fashioned luxury such as the Semiramis offered was considered uneconomic. The era of mass tourism and conducted tours was about to begin.

Semiramis, and all that the name meant, has gone. The glitzy Semiramis Intercontinental with modern facilities which has sprung up in its place is particularly popular with Arab tourists and upgrade tour groups from America. Nubian waiters have been replaced by smart suited waiters. For those who remember, there is a feeling of regret for “the good old days”!

Categories: Egypt, Travel History | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Travel in the good old days

Egypt’s ideal environment — the legendary Nile and its eternal sunshine — have brought visitors to Egypt since Graeco-Roman times, but tourism as an industry was only born when Thomas Cook began to organise cruises and package tours to Egypt some 130 years ago.

It was a different world then. The year 1869 was crucial for Egypt, being the year that the Suez Canal was inaugurated — a momentous event not only for trade but also for tourism. With a sea route to the Orient opened up, this was an opportunity to tap a new potential market and the first escorted Thomas Cook “Nile cruise” was a resounding success. The Reverend Newman Hall was one of the passengers; he became one of the company’s most loyal propagandists. He wrote articles that were published in New York, which Cook reproduced in his magazines, Excursionist and Tourist Advertiser.

Cook was suddenly inundated with requests for trips to Egypt and the Holy Land. What was he to do? The interest was there, the potential was huge; Cook could do naught but respond. In 1870 his son, John Mason Cook, opened an office in the grounds of Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo. Business was launched, and it soon flourished.

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Tourists to Luxor and other sites made their bookings at the first Thomas Cook Office in Shepheard’s Hotel

How could it not? Anyone who could afford it wanted to escape the cruel European winters and Egypt offered the Nile, a dry climate and a wealth of ancient monuments — an irresistible combination. The weather was a particular attraction, since the dry climate was supposed to be good for pulmonary diseases, especially tuberculosis (a common Victorian complaint).

John Cook was anxious to start up business in Egypt and he began to court the British authorities, as well as members of the Khedival ruling circles and the Turkish governor of Egypt. The rumour that Nile traffic was solely in the hands of David Robinson, another travel organiser, was a challenge to him. He began to pitch for the business himself, finally succeeding in obtaining a five-year contract for a new service between the First and the Second Cataracts south of Aswan.

By 1877, Cook was being challenged by others trying to get into the Nile cruise business, including his old rival, Henry Gaze, who had been running Holy Land tours before Thomas Cook’s time. Cook tried to resist the competition, arguing that the Nile was becoming overcrowded, that there was not enough coordination of the services … any number of excuses so that he could monopolise the business himself.

He managed to obtain a contract for control of running of the Khedive’s steamers on the Nile. Nile tourist traffic increased and soon, defects in the services became apparent. The steamers had fulfilled the demands of modest local traffic, but such matters as punctuality, navigational skill, cleanliness and reliability were of relatively little importance. So long as there was some sort of a service, most people were patient and tolerant about the facilities. With the arrival of tourists visiting for limited periods of time and not prepared to rough it, the demand for higher standards of comfort and improved facilities became apparent.

Cook realised the importance of catering to these travellers. He saw that clients in Egypt were, for the most part, of the same level of society as those who had been travelling on Thomas Cooks’s tours to France, Switzerland and Italy since 1855. They were the new middle class and if he wanted to attract them to Egypt, he would have to provide them with something that was not too far removed from their own home comforts.

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British travellers to Upper Egypt

The Khedivial Nile steamers, for which John Mason Cook had been granted a concession, were revamped. An atmosphere was created that was somewhat like a up-market hotel. Cabins were furnished with beds and bed linen from England, imported bathroom fittings were installed, separate toilets were provided for men and women and much of the food that could be transported safely in tins was brought from England. The cabin crew was upgraded; waiters dressed in spotless white galabeyas and were made to wear white gloves while serving food.

Cook’s clients proved extremely demanding. They expected their every wish to be met while they, for their part, did not always honour their booking commitments. They complained about the food, about the saddles on the excursion donkeys and about the way the donkeys were beaten. It is an indication of the high esteem in which they held John Mason that they thought he could set right every small thing they did not approve of.

And, in fact, he did manage to achieve most things. At a time when there were no suitable hotels in Luxor, he arranged tent parties in the desert in such a way that they were, to all intents and purposes, on the scale of the most lavish five-star hotels, complete with folk dancing and dancing horses. He made adventure travel a luxury — and the clients kept rolling in.

John Mason had to cope with problems relevant to the times that do not confront today’s tour operator. A matter that constantly concerned him was how to prevent the vandalism of the ancient monuments. In Cook’s day, there was no antiquities law to control illicit digging and the chipping off of pieces from wall paintings and architectural decorations. Tourists were excited when they were aided by local inhabitants who chipped souvenirs off walls of monuments in the hope of gaining bakshish (tip). This only served to increase the vandalism that would continue almost unabated into the 1930s.

When Cook renewed his contract with the khedive and obtained control of the mail-service from Assiut to Aswan, followed by a 10-year contract, he was encouraged to build a fleet of modern steamers. The vessels were built during the 1880s, largely in Britain, and transported in pieces to Egypt, where they were reassembled at a shipyard built by Cook at Bulaq (then still an important river port of Cairo). By the end of the decade, Cook was the master of Nile traffic. He could offer passenger and mail services, a fleet of luxury vessels and accommodation that would satisfy the most discriminating of Europe’s distinguished citizens.

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The route trekked by steamers between Luxor and Aswan

Soon there were 40 vessels plying the river Nile, including four large, luxury paddle steamers: Ramses, Prince Abbas, Prince Mohamed Ali and Tewfik. All had private cabins with portholes looking out on the river, wash basins, and some even had a small fireplace for the cooler nights of January and February. A large dinning room served food prepared by a European chef and there was a lounge with comfortable chairs and a library with the latest magazines and board games. The public rooms had fan-cooling systems.

In those days, a voyage in one of Cook’s luxury vessels took 23 days and cost 50 pounds sterling, including shore excursions, the hire of donkeys and guides. Smaller vessels, like Anubis, Cheops, Delta, Isis and Horus, were of the same standard. For the less well-to-do, it was possible to travel on the lower decks of the cruisers, where there was a second-class dining saloon.

The dahabiyas, the quaint paddle steamers, were perhaps the most romantic form of river travel and it was refined to an art. Thomas Cook was at first reluctant to use such an outdated form of transportation, but he quickly realised the potential market for people who did not wish to join the type of tourists attracted to the big steamers. John Cook eventually took over some of the dahabiyas and improved their amenities, adapting the vessels to be driven by a steam engine. They proved to be a booming success, ideal for private parties and for those who wished to travel where they would; not on a regular itinerary, but choosing places to stop as they went along. Arranging their own travel plans, increasing numbers of tourists were happy to organise a holiday in the style of a land-based house party.

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An advertisement by Thomas Cook for the Nile trips

This was by no means cheap travel. Among those who used the dahabeyah were the nobility of Europe, including the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden, Viscount Wolseley, General Gordon, Lord Randolph Churchill and many others whose names were recorded by John Mason Cook in his leather-bound Nile guidebooks.

Interestingly enough, the itineraries followed by Nile cruises today remain essentially along the lines of those established at the turn of the 20th century. Travel agents have been hard-pressed to improve on the near perfect. Today vessels sail only between Luxor and Aswan, (no longer on the Cairo to Aswan stretch); donkeys have been replaced by luxury coaches for onshore tours; visits to monuments are coupled with visits to bazaars; but the experience is little changed. Perhaps one thing that has regrettably been lost is a certain intimacy impossible to foster in the air-conditioned comfort of today’s immense floating hotels; a familiarity that early tourists must have found so delightful in the tastefully-furnished smaller vessels.

Major world events have adversely affected the tourist industry and with each upheaval, it changes. World War I, for example, naturally put a damper on the business. Things did not really pick up again until the discovery of Tutankhamoun’s tomb in 1922. By that time the land of the Nile had become a cult theme for novels, fashion houses and even cinema, then the newest form of entertainment. Each, in its way, helped promote tourism and brought a different breed of tourists.

Then came World War II, and after that a less discriminating kind of tourist; people who sought culture at the expense of comfort. Today is a time of mass tourism; larger groups of people are coming to Egypt than ever before. They move en masse to places from as far afield as the Mediterranean to Nubia, the Red Sea to Sinai, from Lake Nasser to the Siwa Oasis. But even those who pride themselves on being new-agers — with a new spirit in travel — it is easy to see that it has all been done before. There is nothing new about Nile cruises or adventure travel; desert picnics or donkey rides. Travellers today are following a well-beaten track.

It is true that Cook’s steamers no longer rule the Nile, but they still feature largely on the Egyptian tourist scene. Without doubt, contemporary tour operators are still indebted to John Mason Cook, a pioneer of the Victorian era and the father of all those luxurious cruises between Luxor and Aswan.

Categories: Egypt, Travel History | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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