Operators unveil 2002 itineraries for North Africa

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NEW YORK -- Tour operators are putting the finishing touches on their 2002 offerings, and agents should expect some new itineraries, particularly in Egypt, and some competitive pricing.

Both Isram World of Travel and Ya'lla Tours are adding long ground elements to their Egyptian lineups, giving clients an alternative to Nile cruises.

Also, Portland, Ore.-based Ya'lla said it expects prices for its Egypt and Morocco tours to drop about 10%, and in some cases 20%, compared with last year.

Ronen Paldi, Ya'lla president, said the decreases were due to the company's concentration on relationships with fewer hotel suppliers in the markets.

Ya'lla, which pays base 12% commission, also worked deals in Egypt that, according to the firm, will enable discounts of between 30% and 40% for children under age 12.

In Morocco, Paldi said the exchange rate made tours a better deal for Americans.

Although prices are lower, he stressed that Ya'lla's services were still intact, and the firm did not have to "cut any corners" to get the decreased rates.

Ya'lla's newest Egypt program is called Pyramid, Sun, and the Red Sea, which features two nights in Cairo and six nights in Sharm al-Sheikh.

"The purpose [of the new plan] is to open Egypt as a resort destination, not just a touring destination," said Paldi. "The Red Sea is becoming an important resort destination, but Americans don't really have access to it."

The tour is priced at $1,895 per person, with air via Delta.

Ya'lla also offers Taste of Egypt, an eight-night trip with private touring through Cairo, Aswan and Luxor.

Paldi said the trip, to be priced at around $1,625 per person without air, is a "viable alternative to a Nile cruise."

For details, call Ya'lla at(800) 644-1595 or visit www.yallatours.com.

New York-based Isram introduced brochures for its 2002 tours to Egypt and Morocco this month.

In Egypt, Isram's lineup includes the Grandeur of the Nile, which offers a suite on a ship plus sightseeing by private car; Ultimate Egypt, a cruise on the Sonesta Moon Goddess, and a land-only program called Beyond the Pyramids.

The last plan is a new tour designed to appeal to clients who want to see Egypt through a method other than a cruise.

"We felt it was time to have a more in-depth tour of Egypt, seeing sights that one normally wouldn't have time for off of a cruise ship," said Eileen Lowe Hart, vice president of marketing for Isram.

The 11-night Beyond the Pyramids visits Cairo, Alexandria, Abu Simbel, Aswan and Luxor, and offers some unusual attractions, like a mummification museum in Luxor and a jewelry museum in Alexandria.

Air-inclusive prices are $3,795 per person.

Isram, which pays between 12% and 15% commissions, is pushing Morocco as well, particularly as a honeymoon destination, according to Hart.

For more information, call Isram at (800) 223-7460 or visit www.isram.com.

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