Few countries in the world have a rich artistic and cultural history that has lasted for millennia like Egypt. Nearly 4,000 years ago trade with other countries opened up to the outside world and the trend continued through a steady cycle of growth. Eventually tourism replaced trade and the public’s attraction to visit the fabulous Egyptian monuments, to luxuriate in opulent palaces, to sail down the Nile on a five-star ship and to be treated like royalty has never waned. Interviews with tour operators specializing in the country indicate that Egypt is not only safe but affordable. Egypt is now.
I’ve always been drawn to the beauty and mystery of the desert. There’s something about the stillness that’s otherworldly. The Negev Desert is where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob tended their herds, according to the Christian, Judean and Moslem faiths.
It would be impossible for a traveler to see and experience everything that Dubai and Abu Dhabi have to offer in one trip. A very small sample of the must-see sights in Dubai include the man-made Palm and World Islands, which provide a breathtaking view when seen from the air. Encourage clients to visit the Dubai Museum for a sense of history and culture.
South Africa is an amazing destination that has lots to offer the North American traveler. South Africa offers everything from fine dining in Cape Town, to compelling iconic cultural attractions in Johannesburg, to everyone’s favorite - wild game safaris, highlighting the Big Five; Lions, Elephants, Buffalos, Leopards, and Rhinos.
Once President Obama signed the Joint Plan of Action with Iran on July 14, 2015, public perception of Iran changed dramatically. Travel sanctions were lifted (not without warnings) as did the veil of negative perceptions. Iran has recaptured the attention of globetrotters who’ve been waiting to tick it off their bucket list. Tourism is an important government directive in Iran. According to sources, the country is investing to invigorate tourism, in contrast to the past. Recent statistics indicate a 40 percent rise in tourism since 2014.
There is a cadence in a giraffe’s walk that makes it appear as though they are keeping time to music in their heads. They nod and lope along to a slow rhythmic beat and gently bob their long graceful necks. I think they might be the most beautiful of all the animals in Kenya. On Crescent Island in Lake Naivasha they are the stars of the show because they allow you to get very close and observe them. Walking here, unencumbered by the confines of a safari jeep, it feels as if you are on a film set for Out of Africa. Indeed, these very creatures could be the offspring of the African animals that starred in that 1985 classic movie; it was filmed right here on this 8 acre island.
Visitors from around the world have long journeyed to the holy land to visit its sacred sites. Now, a new breed of creative chefs has turned Israel into a gastronomic mecca for pilgrims in search of the ultimate cuisine. They are like rock stars, with TV shows, huge followings, book deals and packed eateries. Their world-class restaurants add chic appeal to the newly anointed temple of gastronomy.
With a rich heritage, breathtaking scenery and an immense number of tourist attractions, Kenya has been on the top of people’s bucket lists for many years. Although Kenya has seen its fair share of troubles this past year and tourism numbers dropped in 2015, the government is determined to get those tourism numbers back. The number of visitors to Kenya fell by 25 percent in the first five months of 2015, according to tourism board figures, but the government’s budget for the fiscal year 2015/2016 starting this past July 1, 2015 allocated 5.2 billion shillings ($53.4 million) for “tourism recovery.”
For Qatar, a country that relies heavily on its hydrocarbon revenue, tourism has never been at the forefront of their identity. Recently, however, tourism is playing a pivotal role in diversifying the nation’s economy. In that vein, this past year the Qatar Tourism Authority has developed and unveiled a “Qatar destination brand” to position the country as a premium tourist destination offering an authentic experience rooted in the nation’s culture and heritage. H.E. Mr. Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, chairman of Qatar’s Tourism Authority, stated, “The unveiling of Qatar’s first destination brand marks the beginning of a new phase in our journey towards achieving the vision for Qatar, to become a world class hub with deep cultural roots.”
South Africa is an excellent intro for anyone interested in Africa. Set on the southernmost tip of the African continent, South Africa’s cosmopolitan cities can be experienced side by side with the country’s rich African roots and recent Apartheid history. Add in abundant wildlife, natural beauty and a rich culture, and you are hard pressed to find that diversity anywhere else.
There is a lot to see in South Africa. If you’re an avid traveler, chances are you’ll pass through South Africa, en route to other Southern African countries; Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Whether your destination is South Africa alone, or you’re en route, do more than stretch your legs on a Jo’Burg layover. Get out and stretch your imagination and your sense of adventure.