The State of Travel in the Mideast
Give a little background on your agency : where are you located, what is your specialty, etc.
STS has been in business since 1947 but it specialized and became a major Tour Operator for the Middle East in 1971. It was one of the largest EGYPT suppliers but in 1990 it started branching into other Mideast places: Syria, Jordan, Iran, Tunisia, etc.. We always pioneered in opening new markets for the American travelers, last of which is Libya which as soon as the travel ban was lifted our programs were in the market.
Why should people use a travel agent instead of just going online and buying a ticket on their own?
If the clients only want to buy a ticket, we certainly don't have time for them, and the Internet is better! Our tours are very specialized they include many other services aside from an airline ticket: guides, hotels, transportation vehicles, visa procedures, internal flights in overseas countries and most importantly we offer expertise in planning and executing successful trips.
How is the war in Iraq reflecting on travel to the Middle East?
It is NOT at all, our fall 2004 trips all went through despite the proximity of our destinations to Iraq: Eastern Turkey, Iran, Syria/Jordan, the clients we receive are the educated, open minded, curious ones that do not get frightened by unthreatening situations.
What kind of clientele (where from) do you mainly deal with?
From all over the US. We advertise in Archaeological magazines that only cater to the affluent, educated, most often seniors who do not like to travel in herds of large groups, who want trips led by expert historians and small size groups.
Where are your people traveling to and why? (i.e. are people going to Egypt for tourism, or the UAE for shopping/business ).
You can look up our web site, our tours are mainly archaeology, culture and history oriented. Our destinations cover: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Ethiopia, Mali, Iran and Lebanon
Have you noticed any trends in travel to the Middle East from your area?
We don't deal with travelers who live in Michigan so I can't tell you trends in my area?
The overall trend is that most Mideast bound travelers are the upscale type, we less and less get requests for budget oriented people, these are the ones that usually will shift to other destinations when they hear the media talk about the Middle East.
Where should people consider going
(where they currently aren't going) and why?
Algeria... we just started opening tours to Algeria and we'll be the first to send Americans to that archaeological paradise.
Should you focus on one country? Or
is a package/travel tour a better option?
It depends... some countries are owed a full trip by themselves, like Egypt, Tunisia, Libya.. Each needs at least 2 weeks so to combine them with neighboring places will be a disservice to the tour. While others like Jordan and Syria can be combinable because in 2 weeks you can completely cover 2 countries.
How is traveling on land through countries?
Generally easy. The only problems would be between Syria/Israel/Jordan due to Israeli/Syrian sensitivities.
What are the best times of years to
visit the Middle East? Why?
Fall and spring because weather is Neither TOO hot (summer) nor cold and dreary and rainy (winter).
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