Avalon Waterways will “absolutely” reintroduce Egypt’s Nile back into its UK programme when the New Zealand government relaxes its travel advice warning, boss Giles Hawke has said.
At present, the country currently advises its nationals to avoid “all non-essential travel” to the area west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions, including the Western Desert.
Kiwis are also instructed to “exercise increased caution” in the coastal resort areas between the Nile Delta and Marsa Matruh, and the tourist areas along the Nile River, due to “the unpredictable political situation, civil unrest, crime and the threat of terrorism,” the New Zealand government’s Safe Travel initiative stated.
Hawke, chief executive of Avalon and sister brand Cosmos, told the Clia River Cruise Conference in Paris, that despite statistics predicting growth in demand for the Egyptian river, the line was not poised to sail it just yet.
“Some river cruise lines are operating there, some aren’t,” he said. “The UK Foreign Office advice is that there are places that are more dangerous than others but when you work in multi-national markets, we work in all the English speaking markets worldwide, we have to go with the travel advice of the most cautious government.
“So we are not in the Nile because the New Zealand government is still saying that New Zealand nationals should not travel there. So we choose to say if that’s the case than we will consciously take customers from other nationalities there if we have a government of a country which we sell saying ‘don’t go there’".
Asked if the New Zealand government’s travel advice was lifted, Avalon would go back to sailing the Nile, Hawke said: “Absolutely”.
Paul Melinis, UK managing director for APT, added that the operator and cruise line had seen recent customer enquiries coming in for Egypt.
“It’s an amazing place and an amazing place to do by river. If you go now it’s quiet, obviously you have the FCO advice, but there aren’t many crowds and there aren’t many opportunities to do the Nile like this in a lifetime,” Melinis said.
He also touched upon the growing popularity of river cruising in Russia following the summer’s World Cup, held in the country over the summer.
“We are still getting demand for Russia and it is going well, it’s a great place to visit and has so much culture and heritage,” Melinis described.
“I certainly think there is a bright future in Russia. The good thing about cruising on the rivers in Russia is that hotels are so expensive in Moscow and St Petersburg so it represents amazing value for money.”