Baha'i News -- Amex shows its faith

Amex shows its faith: American Express is sticking with the region with a brochure to Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Turkey. (Destination: Eastern Mediterranean).(Brief Article)

Author/s: James Ruggia
Issue: March 18, 2002

Give American Express credit--it puts its money where its mouth is. In launching a full-color brochure of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Turkey, the company underlines its unofficial slogan: American Express: Here yesterday, here today and here tomorrow. It's a bold, even brazen move to stand by this troubled region while most other operators are looking elsewhere.

A Major Player

Says Michael Stolowitzky, director of international business development: "We want to continue to be a major player in this region. We were a major sponsor of the international peace conference in Jordan in 2000, and we will be there when peace returns. We are American Express. Our decisions are based on long-term considerations."

In light of current events, it's fair to ask why a travel agent would try to sell or a traveler would go to the Eastern Mediterranean. "They go for the same reasons they always went," says Stolowitzky, "because it is the home of the Holy Land, the pyramids and of Western civilization. It has always been a major destination and whatever the current situation is, it will continue to be a major destination. If we didn't believe in it, we wouldn't be sending people there."

Israel at the Heart

Israel is at the heart of the brochure. The cover of the new brochure is of the Bahai Gardens in Haifa. This is an interesting choice, as followers of the Bahai faith, though persecuted in Iran, face no political friction in Israel. The brochure includes the three-night "Glory of Haifa" package, priced from $281, which visits the Bahai Gardens and Shrine as well as a nearby Druze village. The package uses the Dan Haifa, and includes five meals, and full- and half-day tours.

The nine-night "Shalom" tour, which visits Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Haifa, Nazareth, Tiberias, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea and Masada, at $1,519, offers a slightly more secular appreciation of Israel than the seven-night "In His Footsteps," from $1,149 and nine-night "Holyland," from $1,369. These packages include meet-and-greet services, transfers, deluxe motorcoach transportation, all breakfasts and dinners, six days of sightseeing and the services of an English-speaking guide. Amex also sells city-packs to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberias and Eilat.

Clients interested in combining two countries can purchase the two-night" Eilat and Petra" package, starting at $445, which includes accommodations in Eilat at the Dan Panorama or Dan Eilat, a full-day tour of nearby Petra, Jordan, breakfast daily, taxes and service charges.

Independent Travel

The brochure branches more extensively into Israel and its neighbors. The sections for each of the four countries begin with a handful of independent city-packs, to Amman, Jordan; Cairo and Luxor, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; and Haifa, Israel. Each section also features longer, more comprehensive independent packages that cover the entire destination. In Jordan clients can choose the four-night "Jordan in Luxury," from $729, and six-night "Grand Tour of Jordan." The latter combines Amman, Jerash, Petra, Kerak and the Wadi Rum Desert from $979.

Egypt is represented by the nine-night "Splendors of the Nile," which combines four nights in Cairo with a five-night cruise from $2,069; and the seven-night "Nile in Style," from $1,439, which combines three nights in Cairo with a four-night cruise. The company's nine-night Turkey package, priced from $1,325, visits Istanbul, Bursa, Canakkale, Izmir, Ankara, Cappadocia and Kayseri. All prices are per person double, land only.

Obviously, this is an unusual time for visiting many of these countries, but if you are sending clients to the Middle East, you might as well choose an operator with two feet firmly on the ground, and that includes American Express. The company can afford to offer a liberal cancellation policy, and has a broad network of offices and resources to look after your clients.

For additional information, call 800-241-1700 or visit the Web site [].

©Copyright 2001, Travel Agent

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