Discover the Lure of Egypt’s Destinations

14 May

DISCOVER THE LURE OF EGYPT’S SEA COAST DESTINATIONS
AT THE 34TH ANNUAL AFRICA TRAVEL ASSOCIATION CONGRESS
CAIRO, EGYPT, MAY 17-21, 2009

(April 3, 2009, New York, NY) Delegates to the 34th Annual Africa Travel Association (ATA) Congress in Cairo May 17-21, 2009 will have an exciting opportunity to discover Egypt’s’ rapidly developing sea coast destinations on pre or post conference trips.

Alexandria, on the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt’s second largest city, is the gateway to one of the hot spots for development on the north coast. Along the Red Sea coast and on the Sinai Peninsula, the popular and well known Sharm el-Sheikh is now joined by some other tourist centers like Hurghada, Marsa Alam and the newly opened luxurious Marina complex at Port Ghalib. This coastal boom is due in large part to the increased air access with the opening of new regional international airports.

Alexandria Sea Port by Day

EGYPT’S SEA COAST DESTINATIONS: ALEXANDRIA
Alexandria, or “Alex” as it is affectionately called by Egyptians and those “in the know,” is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Mediterranean.” Rich in History and culture, Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, served as the capital of Grecco-Roman Egypt and was also the setting for the stormy relationship between Anthony and Cleopatra. Few people know that it also boasted the famous Pharos lighthouse that was one of the original Wonders of the Ancient World along with the Pyramids. Ancient Alexandria was also the center of learning and the Alexandria Library was the largest in the World.

Only 225 km from Cairo, Modern Alexandria is the country’s largest Seaport and an important year-round tourist destination. There is no question that the romantic image and attraction of this exotic Mediterranean port was made famous by many western authors, including Lawrence Durell, who made it the setting for his famous novel, “The Alexandria Quartet.” The Cecil Hotel mentioned in his book is a wonderful example of post colonial architecture, and is being renovated by Sofitel to become one of their new “Legend” hotels.

Alexandria has many ancient landmarks and archaeological sites to explore including the Roman Amphitheatre, the Villa Al Toyour (Birds Villa), the first Mosaic Museum in Egypt, the Al Anfushi Tombs, El Shatby Necropolis, Pompey’s Pillar and the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa. The Graeco-Roman Museum has a fascinating collection which covers the period from the 34 th Century BC to the 7th Century AD. One of the foremost Alexandrian landmarks today is the Sultan Qaitbey Fort, on the original site of the “Pharos” lighthouse.

Bibliotecha Alexandria and planned Underwater Museum to Boost City’s Tourism
It is the more than its millions of books that attract over 800,000 visitors annually to the new state-of-the-art “Bibliotecha Alexandria” (Alexandria Library) opened in 2002 and built in the shape of a disc facing the Mediterranean. Its geodesic dome houses a lecture hall and Planetarium equipped with an IMAX screen and a Museum of Archaeology. The basement contains 8000 ancient manuscripts and rare books. Definitely a must-see for visitors to Alexandria.

Ambitious plans to create Egypt’s first Underwater Museum will complement the excitement of Alexandria’s Library. In the year 356, Alexandria was hit by a tsunami, followed by subsequent earthquakes. The result was that some of the city’s greatest archaeological treasures were buried in the sea. Since 1994, divers have been excavating sphinxes, granite blocks and what are thought to be pieces of the Pharos lighthouse. The grand vision for the Underwater Museum in Alexandria calls for an immersed fiber glass tunnel that will allow visitors a dry place to view these ancient monuments.

The real lure of Alexandria, however, is the tantalizing rhythm of this City, which ebbs and flows like the tides of the sea. To experience the local “Alex” the visitor must wander its labyrinth of streets in the ancient quarters, and join the locals at sun set as they promenade along the Corniche as it winds its way around the harbor.

Alexandria by Night

THE NORTH COAST BEYOND ALEXANDRIA
West of Alexandria lie miles of beautiful white sandy beaches, stretching along the Mediterranean Sea to the border with Libya. This Mediterranean coastline has been the focus of new development and increased air access. The North Coast is now served by airports in Alexandria, El-Alamein, Borg el-Arab and Marsa Matruh. The seaside resorts, ranging from the ultra luxurious to more modest family resorts, are popular during the summer time with both local and foreign tourists.

Mariut: 15 km west of Alexandria
The region’s climate is ideal for spa tourism and relaxation. In addition to Lake Mariut, there are the extensive remains of the early Christian City of Abu Mena.

Agami: 25 Km West of Alexandria
Now the meeting-place for the jet set, Agami is called the “Egyptian Saint-Tropez” with fashionable restaurants, nightclubs, luxury cars and villas. Swimming however is restricted to private beaches.

Abu Sir: 50km West of Alexandria
Abu Sir is the name given by the Bedouins to the ancient Ptolemaic city of Tappsiris Magna. However, all that remains of the city is the 30m-high lighthouse, a quarter–sized replica of the “Ancient Wonder of the World” Lighthouse that had stood in Alexandria’s port. Three beautiful beaches are located nearby.

Borg el-Arab: 60km West of Alexandria
Founded in 1988 by President Mubarak, Borg el-Arab has become a prestigious destination. With the opening of the Hilton Hotel, it is an ideal family resort and has excellent water sports facilities.

El-Alamein/Marina El Alamein: 106 Km from Alexandria
A port city known primarily as the site of historic World War II battles, El Alamein has now emerged as one of Egypt’s most exclusive resorts. The Marina El Alamein, with Venice-like canals, is comprised of luxurious villas, chalets and upscale shops.

Sidi Abdel Rahman: 125 Km from Alexandria
This wonderful bay is one of the best-kept secrets of Egypt’s entire north coast. The village has managed to preserve its traditional Bedouin way of life and remains relatively underdeveloped, guaranteeing an air of authenticity. The only hotel catering for tourists, El-Alamein, offers visitors pristine beaches.

Marsa Matruh: 240 km West of Alexandria
Totally to the other extreme from Sidi Abdel Rahman, Marsa Matruh is a large city, which is packed during the summer. Popular for its lovely bay, sparkling turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, Marsa Matruh is said to have been founded by Alexander the Great on his way to the Siwa Oasis.

EGYPT’S SEA COAST DESTINATIONS: SINAI PENINSULA
Sharm el-Sheikh
Sharm el-Sheikh, more often referred to as “Sharm”, is an ideal resort for diving and swimming with beautiful beaches, coral reefs and the Ras Mohamad National Park. Visitors can select from a wide range of accommodations–five star luxuries to budget hotels. It is also an excellent jumping off point for tours to some of the historic places in the Sinai, including St. Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of “Jebel Musa” where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments. Desert Safaris feature visits to a Bedouin village and a camel ride in the desert sands.

For smaller, peaceful resorts with beautiful beaches and wonderful diving and snorkeling one should not miss Dahab, Nuweiba, and Taba, all north of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Red Sea Coast: Hurgada
Once a small fishing village founded in the early 20th Century, Hurgada is now one of the foremost tourist resorts along the Red Sea and world famous as a center for international aquatic sports. Known as the center for diving, water sports and night life, it is also known to the Europeans as a “party town.” The developments north and south of the city offer visitors more peaceful options including golf. The many beautiful islands off shore offer wonderful snorkeling and diving day trips.

El Gourna, 20 kms north of Hurgada, is luxury resort comlpex with a marina, another “must see” on this coast.

Red Sea Coast: Port Ghalib Marina and Resort Complex
The recently opened Port Ghalib Marina and Resort Complex, five minutes from the new Marsa Alam International Airport, is definitely the new “buzz” on the Red Sea. A yachtsmen’s paradise, this ultra deluxe resort with a marina (can accommodate 1000 boats) and four hotels (the five-star deluxe Intercontinental Palace Port Ghalib Resort, the five star twin Crowne Plaza properties, Sahara Sands and Sahara Oasis, and the four- star Marina Lodge Port Ghalib, will certainly rival that of the more established resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurgada.

ATA CONGRESS: “CONNECTING DESTINATION AFRICA”
The theme of the four-day Africa Travel Association Congress is “Connecting Destination Africa.” The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and the Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) are subsidizing hotel accommodations for all delegates and providing transportation, logistical support, and a full day of tours in Cairo itself. The “host day” tour will include a visit to the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World, The Pyramids in Giza, as well as a visit to the National Museum.

Egypt Air, the official Congress Carrier, is offering discount rates for all delegates for as low as $711 (not including tax) round-trip New York/Cairo/New York in economy class on a first come basis. Egypt Air is a member of Star Alliance.

For more information about Egypt: http://www.egypt.travel
For more information about the ATA Congress and for online ATA Egypt Congress registration: http://www.africatravelassociation.org

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Editorial Contact:
Karen Hoffman
The Bradford Group
(212) 447-0027
Bradfordmktg@aol.com

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