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Have you heard of this: Egypt's Ministry of Tourism's "Crisis Committee"?

Have you heard of this: Egypt's Ministry of Tourism's "Crisis Committee"?

Feb 17th, 2011, 03:09 PM
  #1  
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Have you heard of this: Egypt's Ministry of Tourism's "Crisis Committee"?

We have been disappointed in both our local travel agent and Egyptian Express in the handling of our cancellation of our trip and in the process of refunding (not) our money.

Yesterday, our travel agent forwarded an email to us from Egyptian Express (signed by a person representing the company president) which stated that the Ministry of Tourism has created a "Crisis Committee" to study all the thousands of cancellations during February, March and April.

Has anyone here received an email like this from your tour company in Egypt?

Here is the email:

"As per our previous correspondence we would like to advise you that the "Crisis Committee" formed by the Ministry of Tourism to work with all suppliers (Travel Agents, Hotels, Cruise Lines, Transportation firms, Domestic Airlines) has received thousands of reported FIT and Group cancellations for the months of February, March, and April 2011.

The Committee is in charge of studying each case they have received including the following:

a) Possibility for clients to re-book their trip within a period of 6-12 months.

b) The cancellation policies of the suppliers pertaining to each cancelled booking.

c) Method of payment of refunds by suppliers to clients entitled to full opartial refunds.

We will let you know as soon as the Ministry of Tourism "Crisis Committee" announces their instructions/procedures for refund payments by suppliers.

Furthermore, and as a result of the sudden and large number of cancellations and the high administrative costs sustained by the suppliers, it remains unclear what refund/cancellation policies they will implement.

Finally, putting in consideration the best interest of your valued clients, we strongly feel and recommend they consider re-booking their trip within the coming 6-12 month period, especially that all suppliers have agreed not to increase their rates for clients wishing to re-book., thus ensuring making full benefit of their payments."

We are appalled at this and see it as a break in the cancellation agreement by Egyptian Express. It is ludicrous to think that this Committee will study each and every reservation cancellation to decide how to individually proceed with each cancellation.

It is not in our best interests to re-schedule in the upcoming months (6 months to a year) as we do not want to and are unable to do that. Suggesting that we re-schedule is in their best interests, not ours. This is not just not right.

Bottom line is all our money (over $10,000!) is being held hostage by Egyptian Express, the Ministry of Tourism and this newly formed Crisis Commitee.

We find this unacceptable and will do whatever it takes to get all our money back.
Marianna is offline  
Feb 17th, 2011, 06:23 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Marianna - Trust me -dealing with the Egyptian bureaucracy can be a frustrating experience. As hard as it is, just keep in mind the unusual circumstances that have brought upon this situation.

I can't offer any advice, but I am hoping Debbie (Casual_Cairo) can give some insight. Last I checked, she is (VERY slowly, due to canceled flights), making her way back to Egypt. Maybe once she's back and settled in, she can comment.

Our of curiosity, I wonder if there were any similar problems after the December 2004 tsunami in Thailand.
Grcxx3 is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 01:12 AM
  #3  
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We understand that getting our refund may take time, but what we don't understand is why Egyptian Express has not contacted us and that,through the Ministry of Tourism and the "Crisis Committee" (if there is one), they changed the rules after the game had started. Egyptian Express broke the agreement with these new rules of refund. We doubt that this is happening to each and everyone seeking a refund.

It has been a very frustrating experience to say the least.
Marianna is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 02:32 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
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So sorry for your negative experience letter seems scammy.

You are entitled to a prompt refund if service cannot be given

www.insuremytrip.com always wise for me.

Saved my bacon X 2 last year

for the Iceland Volcano and civil unrest in Ecuador.

If you paid with a credit card you may have insurance for this

mine does but either way I usually file a CC dispute/merchant

reversal immediately get my money back and an investigation

at no cost to me.

If you wired money you are pretty much at their mercy.

but generally the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Good Luck!
qwovadis is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 03:57 AM
  #5  
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Yes, it sounded like a scam to us as well and I told my local travel agent (first time using her)that is what we thought. However, she seems to be more interested in the well-being of Egyptian Express than in us, her clients. She is a Virtuoso agent so now we doubt the value of using this type of service.
Marianna is offline  
Feb 18th, 2011, 12:01 PM
  #6  
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I had a long talk with my travel agent today and she is working, along with others, to get my situation resolved to our satisfaction. They are also trying to find out if there relaly is a "Crisis Committee". I did find out that there is no one at the Ministry of Tourism which supposedly establish this "Crisis Committee".
Marianna is offline  
Feb 19th, 2011, 02:02 AM
  #7  
 
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Hi there
Sure I heard about this from T.V, they try to find solution for the damage. don't worry it will take time to get your refund because almost everything in Egypt are stop, already banks were closed
Sky8 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2011, 08:51 AM
  #8  
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The few people I have talked to, including a manager for the cruise company we were using, the Egypt Embassy in both DC and NYC, and a front desk manager at the Cairo hotel, had not heard of it. So, how can the people involved with the government and tourism not know about this Committee? Strange.

BTW, there is no Minister of Tourism - I was told this by someone at the Egyption Tourist Authority. I had already surmised this when I went to Egypt.gov and there was no name for the Ministry of Tourism and no email address either. The only thing listed under the title "Ministry of Tourism" is a link to a travel company's website.
Marianna is offline  
Feb 20th, 2011, 01:59 AM
  #9  
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Yesterday, I sent out about 30 emails. I am starting to get responses today.

The Cairo hotel and our cruise were not pre-paid as Egyptian Express told us in a different email than the one above.

There may be a sort of "Crisis Committee" but it is not doing what Egyptian Express described in our email above.

An Egyptian tour company (not EE) told me that whatever the "Committee" says, they are paying refunds in full to maintain their good reputation and he wishes other companies do the same. This person said the bank rules have changed.

I heard from someone high up in the Egyptian Tourism Federation and he is contacting EE about our situation.

So things are moving, I hope. It has been quite a struggle for Egypt but also for us.
Marianna is offline  
Feb 20th, 2011, 02:00 AM
  #10  
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PS:I hope to have some positive information from EE and I will post the outcome here.
Marianna is offline  
Feb 20th, 2011, 04:22 AM
  #11  
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New travel warning from US Gov - dated 2/18:

http://egypt.usembassy.gov/consular/travpubl.html
Marianna is offline  
Feb 20th, 2011, 03:36 PM
  #12  
 
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have you heard about any other travelers who also used this company who are having trouble?
mtravels is offline  
Feb 20th, 2011, 03:46 PM
  #13  
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No, we have not. We are making progress though. We have a bit of hope that we will get a full refund soon.
Marianna is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 04:18 AM
  #14  
 
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my parents were due to go to Egypt in the fall (post 9/11) of 2001. They used an agent that is based in Florida who also used Egyptian Express. From what I understand that agent sued Egyptian Express - you should ask your travel agent if she knows of that situation and if you like i can see if I can find out their phone number - may be worth a call to see what ultimately happened.
mtravels is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 01:51 PM
  #15  
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Thaks for the ninformation.

Through extensive emails the past 3 or 4 days, research, phone calls, etc, I have found out that no tour company I contacted really has heard of this Crisis Committee doing exactly what we were told they had to do. Every tour company that responded to me said they are refunding money to their clients or re-booking and the client decides!

Furthermore, one tour company offered to help us - they were appalled at my story. It has been a trail of lies - blaming pre-paid suppliers when they were not yet paid.

However, we are a baby step closer to, hopefully, getting our full refund. I really had to go to the tourism top in Egypt to achieve this. Hope it happens!
Marianna is offline  
Feb 21st, 2011, 01:53 PM
  #16  
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Geez, my fingers are no longer working!

Thanks for the information and yes, I would appreciate the phone number. Thanks.

I have so much info to share about this - can't do it now. I might write a book!
Marianna is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 02:08 AM
  #17  
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Update:

We just saw a credit from Egyptian Express to our AE account for the FULL amount minus about $100 in transaction fees!

What I learned from responses to my emails is that other tour companies based in Egypt, UK, US had not heard of this "Crisis Committee". Most initiated contacting clients (ours did but just to say our money was being held hostage) with option of keeping the reservation, full refund, re-book to Egypt or arrange a trip elsewhere. One company told me that they were making full refunds no matter what - they wanted to maintain their reputation and hoped that the company we used would do the same so that people would not have a negative feeling about Egyptian tour companies. Another tour company even offered to help us recover our money! And another tour company said they are just about done with all their refunds and that they never had to wait for any Committee to tell them what to do - they knew waht they had to do. I also found out that EE lied to us about pre-paying all suppliers on our behalf. I have documentation that they did not.

Our travel agent did contact EE but this was done after I already had initiated getting our refund through other contacts. Virtuoso was also notified of the circumstances and I know they contacted EE as well but after I had started the process through other people. We do, however, thank them for helping us during this frustrating experience.

So, it may have been a result of a convergence of people contacting EE on our behalf but I believe that, if we did not go to the top and contact the Director of the Egypt Tourism Federation, we would not have our full refund today.

It is over. We have our money back.

Someday in the future, when things settle down and we have this experience behind us, we will plan a trip to Egypt and a Nile cruise. We have some ideas now of reputable companies to contact!
Marianna is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 04:22 AM
  #18  
 
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<>

I think it would be useful if you provided his name and address for others to use. Thank you.
Casual_Cairo is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2011, 04:28 PM
  #19  
 
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Egyptian Express has done this before and I think the top of the chain should put him out of business. This company is a poor reflection on the country. I am thrilled to hear you received your money back. AE would have stood by you so at least you know you had that option. Lesson learned for sure...
mtravels is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2011, 02:12 AM
  #20  
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Thaks, mtravels. There is a company called Egypt Express which was founded in 2003. The company we used was Egyptian Express - in business since 1958 I think.
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