“What am I REALLY going to pay for my Egyptian Holiday?”  

This question is worth paying a good deal of attention to.

  • “Am I going to pay the quoted price?” or
  • “Is that just the starting price?”

I’m writing this post because of responses I have received from people I have recently quoted for accommodation and holiday/tour packages.  People are telling me they are on a budget or have a price they are not willing to go above.  My answer to that is “Don’t come to Egypt until you can afford it”.  Because, once you are here, if you really do not have any more money than you thought you were going to spend, you are going to be stuck.

On my first trip to Egypt that is exactly what happened me.   I came on a tour package, without giving much thought to what was included and what was “extra”.  I thought I would be happy with the “bare bones” of the holiday.  I was not.  Once here I wanted to experience it all.  So, I spent more than I could afford and that left me angry and frustrated on some occasions.

There are some facts you need to be aware of:

  • Egypt is no longer a “cheap holiday”.  Cost of living prices here have been rising steadily for the last two years, due to removal of government subsidies – in line with IMF directions.  They will continue to rise.  While a ride to Luxor airport may have only cost 50 Egyptian pounds 3 or 4 years ago – it is minimum 180 Egyptian pounds now – that is roundabout US$10.
  • PROBLEM:  Most Egyptian service providers dealing face to face with prospective tourists feel under pressure to keep the prices to the tourists down to secure the bookings.  But the transport, electricity, water, gas and food suppliers must put up the prices to cover the actual increasing costs and make their profits.  Electricians, plumbers, carpenters, painters are all in high demand and charging high prices for their work – good luck to them.  At the end of the day all these costs are paid for by the end user – in the tourism industry, that is you.
    • SOLUTION?  –  hidden costs for the tourist.  Now, they may not ALL be actually hidden from you.  But, like me, perhaps you are not actually taking in what is not included in your quoted price,
    • SOLUTION? – commission to the guide/tour company for taking you to workshops, shops, restaurants etc will bring up the amount of money the tour company or hotel makes.
HIDDEN COSTS – examples:
  • Giza Plateau Tour – Ticket to the Great Pyramid is not included.  Why would you go to Giza and not go into the Great Pyramid?  Unless you are scared of closed spaces…..  How is this presented to you?  “Well, there is nothing really to see inside … and it’s a really long climb… and it’s hot.  You are not really missing anything by not going in…”  Check out what is included and NOT included on your tours.
  • Wi-fi can end up costing you quite a lot.
  • Perhaps the guide is not being paid by the tour company, and his wages is what you tip him?  Find out!   One online tour company recommends you tip their guide US$25 per person per day – and half that for your tour driver.
  • Tipping – is expected and can come to anything from US$150 per person minimum and upwards depending on your program and number of days.  Read my post “Tipping in Egypt”
  • Luxor West Bank – the three extra tombs that you can see if you want.  These are not cheap and prices have gone up twice I think in the last 6 months.  Prices are on my Luxor – West Bank post.  Is this clear on your itinerary?  It can be very upsetting to find out later you could have seen something special and you didn’t know.
  • Water and drinks – can be relatively expensive on cruises, restaurants and hotels.  Taxes on alcohol is high.
  • If you end up having to go to the hospital – for heaven’s sake don’t leave insurance out of your budget.  A hospital stay will cost you a LOT of money.  Read my post Hospitals in Luxor on what you need.
  • Paying by card – is there an extra bank charge?  What is it?
  • Last minute changes to your accommodation or transport – you thought you were getting a five star hotel and a limo service?  Well, maybe not…  These changes, if they happen can change the balance sheet for the service provider quite a bit.
COMMISSION – paid to anyone who takes you to the following:
  • Alabaster and Papyrus “workshops”, carpet factories, the obligatory cartouche in the jewellery shops, and Perfume “Palaces” – basically just shops.  You may set out with the intent not to buy but after using their toilets, having “welcome drinks” and sitting looking at the shelves, most people succumb before leaving…after all everyone here is so nice, how could you not buy a little something?  And, let’s face it, we all like shopping.  I have guest who come with the intention of buying nothing, taking no souvenirs home and end up buying the extra suitcase. So, come with money to spare for shopping.
  • hotels – restaurants
  • any shop

All the above is to pay the tour company and guides for your holiday costs, you just don’t know it yet.

Finally,  it is not always your hotel, guide or tour company that is responsible for your upset.  I write posts on every subject I can think of to help visitors cover as many eventualities as possible.  I send sheets of info to my guests.  I write clearly what is included and not included in my emails  (all in same typeface and size so there is no actual “small print”.  I send out a long list of business “terms and conditions” – again no “small print”. 

In the past I have exchanged anything from 50 to 75 emails with my guests, asking me questions, prior to concluding a booking with me .  (I have to curtail that now and, while I will answer as many emails as anyone wants AFTER a booking is confirmed, I am limiting the number of emails I will exchange now, PRIOR to a booking confirmation, to about 6.)

AND still I have people who misunderstand what I have sent them OR simply just don’t read or take in the info given.  Which is fine – I am also guilty of, sometimes, not taking everything in. 

So, for your own sake – for your happiness and peace of mind.  Make sure you know what your trip is going to end up costing you BEFORE you come to Egypt.  Your budget might (in your mind) be pre-determined by what you want to spend.  And if you tell that to any agent here, you will be supplied with the required quote for your trip – I pretty much guarantee you that is not going to be the final price.  Your trip is going to cost what it is going to cost and the only one paying for it, one way or another, is going to be YOU.

Here is a post I wrote over a year ago on the same subject http://marahouseluxor.com/tourists-return-to-egypt-as-prices-fall-security-improves/  In the past, referring to pre-2011, the Egyptian tourism industry did not have a good reputation.  I actually thought that after our “7 lean years” in the tourism wilderness that everyone would be so happy to have tourists back, and there would be a change, an improvement in business practices.  However, that first requires a change of focus and a change of mindset.  Maybe they don’t know where to start…  In a small, internal, competitive arena it would not easy to achieve consensus that involves change.  In an arena of ever-increasing costs, who wants to tell the customer their trip is going to cost way more than they thought?

Mara

Hi, I'm from Ireland and I built Mara House, a small, family run, unique boutique hotel in Luxor in 2003.....My promise is to deliver quality service, traditional food, comfort, enjoyable experiences, up-front pricing, no hidden extras.....PLUS I answer all your emails personally..... I provide professional, qualified tour guides who do NOT divert you to shops, restaurants etc. for commission.....We are best suited to people who like to be taken care of from airport entry to airport departure, people who want to avoid hassle, scams and tourist traps.....You deal directly with me... Hope you find my travel info helpful -//.. Mara
Mara
 

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