• Started with STI Travel (leader in travel to Egypt) in Hackensack, NJ in 2006. (STI Travel became part of the Central Holidays Travel Group in 2012.)
• Handled FIT & Group Sales from 2006-2016
• In charge of Product Development from 2008-2015
• Rejoined Central Holidays in August, 2018
• Visited Egypt for the 4th time in December 2018
• Call Center Team Leader for Egypt FIT & Group sales
• Develops custom itineraries for both FITs and Groups
• Handles Egypt Product Development including itinerary creation
Travel Research Online (TRO): Hi Christine, how are you today?
Christine Henriquez (CH): Very well, thank you for asking.
TRO: You’ve been in the travel industry since 2006. What do you find that keeps your interest in this field?
CH: It’s exciting to make travel dreams a reality. Every day I get to work with someone new on their clients dream vacations and the opportunities are endless to create tailor-made itineraries for them that are personal and special.
TRO: The agency you originally worked for was integrated into the Central Holidays family early on in your career. What has been your experience working for them?
CH: Nothing less than amazing. Central Holidays is not just a company, it’s a family.
TRO: Why choose Egypt as your specialty, are there certain aspects you enjoy about it?
CH: I’ve always loved history and since I was younger, I always found Egypt to be fascinating…new discoveries, new tours, amazing welcoming people. Egypt’s archaeologists recently announced the discovery of a tomb of a high priest, untouched for over 4000 years. It was found in the Saqqara pyramid complex near Cairo and is filled with colorful hieroglyphs and statues of pharaohs. It’s a destination that is so exciting to offer travel advisors.
TRO: Egypt has had a tumultuous past at certain points in history. Though stable and safe now, how has this changed tourism in the country?
CH: Tourism was down for quite some time, but over the past year we’re seeing a huge growth in the requests we have been receiving for individual and group reservations for this year, 2020 and even 2021. In fact, Central Holidays is over 300% above our sales in 2017. We are thrilled to continue offering new programs and experiences to meet the pent-up demand for travel to Egypt, and the welcoming Egyptian people are so happy to share their amazing country’s treasures with travelers.
TRO: When creating itineraries for travelers heading to Egypt with Central Holidays, what do you look for?
CH: My initial questions are centered on the interests and preferences of the travelers and from there I create custom itineraries. There are so many different options of things to do in Egypt. The country offers not only iconic and intriguing ancient sites and a fascinating culture to explore – but also fantastic beach resorts for relaxation, rejuvenation, and romance.
TRO: Central Holidays has about 16 tours operating around Egypt, including land and cruise. What are your most popular tours to the area?
CH: Currently, our most popular tours are our Pyramids, Pharaohs & Paradise program that features three nights in Cairo, one night in Aswan, a three-night Nile Cruise, and three nights in the Red Sea with a stay in Hurghada; and our Nile Voyager program for clients that have less time but still want the full experience – three nights in Cairo and a three-night Nile River Cruise.
TRO: What should agents know about working with Central Holidays? Do you have a way for them to get detailed information regarding your tours?
CH: We really enjoy working with travel advisors and sharing our knowledge. We have destination specialists available for all of our programs, plus we have a brand-new website that is full of detailed information about all of our destinations: www.centralholidays.com
TRO: Any announcements or upcoming projects that Central Holidays has in store for the future?
CH: With the resurgence in popularity we are experiencing to Egypt, Central Holidays is planning an expansion with the addition of two new ships to our Nile fleet owned and operated by our parent company Sakkara Group International. The vessels are being designed specifically for the American market, featuring modern design, upscale amenities, spacious suites – in fact, the largest staterooms on the Nile, a luxurious spa, and delicious a la carte dining. The first of the new ships will be inaugurated in 2020 and the second will join the fleet in 2021.
TRO: Thank you for your time, Christine.
CH: Thank you so much for having me!