I note that the current Egypt Tourism slogan is, 'Where it all begins'; a somewhat ironic strap-line, when you consider the events in these past few months in that exotic country! The title is meant to convey that those who go to Egypt will experience a journey like no other! We know from reports that we are receiving that many of the resorts in Egypt are sparsely populated, but those who do venture to that country, report experiences that amount to the worst of all holiday complaints. Poor service, bad attitudes from hotelier and tour company abound and worst of all, poor hygiene standards. Before the Egyptian crisis, we had called on the Egyptian Authorities to clean up the various hotels and Nile cruises, but it seemed to us that with so many tourists filling the coffers, there was little motivation to do so. What excuse have those same authorities got now? Let's consider the experience of these recent Nile cruisers!
On this particular cruise they found that the food was not hot, the food was rehashed and the red wine was watery. After all the complaints of holiday illness and the lack of clean water, they discovered that waiter had already opened the water served at the table - were the bottles sealed in the first place? One of the holidaymaker's was taken ill after several days (they had noted others were also complaining of illness) and their partner went and spoke to the holiday company representative. The 'rep' who when told that a doctor was needed, simply stated that they should not forget that they had booked a balloon trip and that the illness would pass - clearly a medical expert!
The illness got worse and again the holidaymaker returned to the rep demanding that a doctor be called which they duly did. When the Doctor arrived, he attended the holidaymaker in the cabin, who gave them an injection and antibiotics.
The next day, as their cruise was coming to an end, the 'rep' was spoken to again and the holidaymaker expressed the view that their partner was so ill that they were too weak to travel.
The 'rep' responded that they should not worry as they would give the holidaymaker a 'fireman's carry' to get them off the boat; the 'rep' warned that if they did not take up the offer, they would have to organise and pay for their own transfer to the hotel. Don't you just love the sympathy of these travel reps and the corporations they represent?
It is often said to me by members of the travel industry that holidaymakers just do not help themselves and therefore it is of no surprise that they have problems!
As this holidaymaker struggled to get themselves off this boat, they collapsed and required assistance from their partner and others to get them onto the transfer coach. That sounds like holidaymakers helping themselves where no assistance is clearly available!
The holidaymaker then had to endure a five and a half hour journey on the coach suffering every inch of the way!
When they arrived at their hotel, the holidaymaker collapsed in the hotel foyer twice, vomiting and drifting in and out of consciousness. The holidaymaker was transported to their hotel room in a golf buggy and after some difficulties, eventually a Doctor was called to the hotel room. By this stage both of them were feeling very ill and both were placed onto a drip in their hotel rooms! Their illness continued and they both had to attend the local clinic, where again, they were both placed onto a drip!
The Doctor kindly arranged with the hotel for them both to receive refreshments in their room and he did not request any money from them.
The reception of the hotel advised them subsequently that if they did not pay for the Doctor before departure, they would not be allowed to leave the hotel!
A couple of days later, they felt well enough to leave their hotel room and were very angry that they had not received any attention or even a phone call from their 'rep' to see if they were OK. Several days later, they saw the 'rep' who was less than sympathetic to their complaint and did not give them a customer complaints form.
Since their return to the UK, both of them have been extremely ill and have not yet recovered from their holiday from hell!
As many holidaymakers do, they have written a letter of complaint to the tour company, only to discover that - surprise, surprise - there was not one company that they had a contract with, but SIX travel companies!
Many of these companies are members of travel trade organisations with a Code of Conduct attached!
This is a dreadful story of not only the failure of the service and standards on this Nile boat but also of:
- The failure to make sure that this Nile boat was fit for purpose;
- The failure of the obligations of liability imposed by Regulation 15 of the Package Travel Regulations;
- The complete disregard of the 'rep' on board the boat to provide assistance as required by Regulation 15 of The Package Travel Regulations;
- The failure to ensure that this holidaymaker received proper medical assistance on departure from the boat;
- The failure by the travel company to assist the holidaymaker to get movement or repatriation assistance from their travel insurance company;
- The failure by the hotel 'rep' to provide assistance as required by Regulation 15 of The Package Travel Regulations;
- The failure by the hotel 'rep' to provide a customer complaints form;
- The attempt subsequently by the 'tour operator' to claim that the holiday was not a Package Holiday;
- The failure of the sales process, if indeed it were not a Package Holiday, to adequately signpost the 'deficits' in Consumer Rights, and
- The failure by the 'tour operator' to ensure that the holiday was overall fit for purpose, from delivery of the product to the lack of service to the holidaymakers!
I started this article with the phrase 'Where it all begins'; for this couple it is certainly where it has all began! They are now embarked on a course where they are receiving expert legal assistance to deal with this dreadful set of holiday complaints and the 'tour operator' will eventually be called to task on their failure to deliver the dream for this couple!
However, for Egypt, if the tourism authorities actually believe that a smart slogan and relying on the sympathy of the travelling public will win back their tourist trade, they are very sorely mistaken! As the tourists are thin on the ground at this time, the holiday complaints become more real, more accentuated! So whilst those at the Ministry of Tourism in Cairo are clearly twiddling their thumbs in this quiet period, how about getting out there, onto the Nile boats and hotels, unannounced, and take action against those who sully your great country's name; time for you to build your country's tourist trade from the bottom up?
If you have been affected by any similar issues related here in this article, then contact HolidayTravelWatch for Free Advice & Assistance!