Regional Administrative and Financial Director of Club Med, Cairo office
Financial Manager of STI Voyages France
General and Financial Director of STI Voyages France
Founder and President of Ghattas Tourism & Consulting Management, France
Executive Director of STI Voyages France
2016 to Present
Board Member of SGI Travel, Egypt –based in New Jersey office
Travel Research Online (TRO): You’ve worked in the financial and directing fields since 1993. How did you first know that this was for you?
Twefik Ghattas (TG): I knew this industry was for me from my first job in Club Med, the French company who invented a, then, new form of shared experience and a unique style of village holiday: all-inclusive holidays and resorts around the world. The concept entailed living your vacation in the village and sharing in all the activities. When you have the chance to start your career within a big international group like I did, you get the opportunity to be trained in a solid structure and with an excellent understanding for all services and sectors of the business.
Due to the fact that I was managing the financial department and was responsible for not only the hotels division, but also the brand’s river cruises, I was obliged to study each element and aspect of the budgeting and projection for each, including all corresponding services such as production, the brochures, excursions, sales, HR, marketing, flights, and more.
Thereafter, I went to work in Paris with the SGI Group, serving in a management role for their brand STI, a tour operator that specialized in tailor made travel. This gave me the chance to gain unparalleled experience on the other side, from product development to managing relationships, with DMCs, hotels, and third-party suppliers, to creating agreements with consortia and travel agencies in the “B2B” Market.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Those positions were also involved in the travel industry, where you could have chosen another industry to work. Why travel?
TG: The prospects for the tourism industry are infinite and ever-growing, from outdoor adventures to culinary, cultural, experiential, art, and more. From the creative forward thinking of new vacation products, to innovating in technology to best serve today’s travelers, and beyond to being part of prestigious events and evolving trends – the opportunities in this sector are endless.
As Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Despite the fact that I am a travel literature lover, I realized that it is better to see something at least once than to read about it a thousand times.
Over my decades in travel, I have been fortunate to be able to travel all over the world through inspection trips, seminars & trade shows – all which have reaffirmed my passion for working in Tourism.
We develop our insider knowledge of each destination by exploring the history, culture, geography, cuisine, music, art, attractions, and so much more as we visit new destinations firsthand. Then we employ that knowledge to create new itineraries, implement new technologies, and serve our travel advisor partners and their travelers in the most personalized and unrivaled ways possible… these are some of the traits that set us apart from other travel brands and keeps guests traveling with us again and again.
Travel Research Online (TRO): You oversee a few divisions under the Central Holidays name. What do you think Central Holidays brings to the table that other travel suppliers do not?
TG: Synergy is the goal and achieving it is critical to the success of all of our brands.
We are use the synergy of the SGI Group to make each and every travel experience the very best it can be. Our DMCs, Hotels, and River Cruises owned by the group create a combined team that give us so many advantages – including the unique ability to create products in a way where we can feature incomparable quality control as we own these various service providers.
At Central Holidays, this synergy enables us to provide the most authentic experiences in each destination with specific programs that present our clients with immersive and experiential travel programs beyond other providers. We create unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime moments via our travel offerings that last with them forever. Our 47-year history in creating and developing products – tested and reviewed always – has given us the expertise to satisfy every whim of our clients. Additionally, we work on creating new programs every year to make sure that we are catering to the ever-evolving desires and preferences of all ranges of today’s travelers. From FIT packages, customized or escorted tours, to group travel experiences, and the ultimate in luxury travel by our Journeys brand, travel advisors will always find the perfect travel program for their clients with Central Holidays.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Journeys by Central Holidays is one of those companies. They have some of the lushest experiences for travelers in Italy and Peru, from Honeymoons to cultural tours. Are there any plans to open this up to more destinations?
TG: I am thrilled to share details about our bespoke luxury travel brand Journeys by Central Holidays. At Journeys by Central Holidays we orchestrate luxury travel experiences that completely redefine high-end travel. These experientially rich, hand-crafted itineraries to amazing, captivating and inviting destinations give an extraordinary new meaning to pre-planned travel for even the most discerning of travelers.
The brand offers the ultimate in customized luxury travel experiences, exclusive offerings, and upscale personalized services to destinations across the globe. Travelers can currently have their ideal luxury vacation experiences meticulously planned by the Journeys team throughout Italy as well as in Europe – from Greece, France and Spain, to Portugal, Switzerland, Germany, and beyond; across Egypt and virtually any destination in Latin America.
On the brand’s website, only a taste of Journeys experiences can be viewed at this time. Travel Advisors can look forward to seeing more splendid Journeys experiences online as more destinations are added to the site in the coming year.
Travel Research Online (TRO): What are your favorite destinations for personal travel?
TG: Actually, my favorite destination for personal travel is always the newest destination I am seeking to discover, which I am pleased to say changes as I enjoy new opportunities across the globe. Thus far, I have found a special bond with Italy, France, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, and Morocco to name a few of my favorites.
Travel Research Online (TRO): When advising on boards in the travel industry, what is your primary concern or direction when beginning the process?
TG: My first concern always is environmental awareness behavior. More than any other industry, tourism affects the environment the most. Consequently, environmental issues – such as destruction of biodiversity, pollution, global warming, waste increase and natural resources depletion – all affect tourism as much as other global issues. In this regard, attention and understanding of the effects of tourism on the environment and its governing laws seem necessary in order to meet the challenges and achieve the goals of sustainable tourism.
Travel Research Online (TRO): Does Central Holidays have any big news or upcoming releases in the future that our readers should be aware of?
1. Central Holidays will add two new ships to its fleet on the Nile.
We currently have 10 ships sailing in Egypt, three of which cater to the U.S. market. In 2020 that number will increase, and by 2021 there will be 12 ships – five of which will cater to American travelers.
The first of our two new Nile River cruise ships, the deluxe 5-star “M/S NEBU” will enter service in February of 2020 and will set a new standard of luxury in river cruising. From designer interiors and stylishly sophisticated soft goods, to incomparable personalized service delivered by a meticulously trained crew, everything about the M/S Nebu experience has been custom-created to cater to and embrace today’s travelers.
The second will follow one year later. Both of the new vessels are designed for the American market and will offer spacious staterooms with French balconies, and an a la carte dining experience. Each vessel will feature 40 suites, and the cabins will be the largest on the Nile. Each of the new ships also features a panoramic elevator and the most expansive spas on Nile sailing vessels.
The timing is certainly right for growth as Egypt has seen a major resurgence in popularity in the last two years.
2. Expansion of our Central Holidays MICE Service
During the month of September 2019, we organized an incentive travel group of nearly 5,000 American passengers that boosted Jerusalem and Tel Aviv inbound travel numbers and showcased the first ever mega event in the biblical site, The Valley of Ben Hinnom. This was the largest-ever incentive travel group to visit Israel.
You can scarcely imagine the amount of effort and hard work put in to prepare and organize a group of this size. This is a great example of the power of synergy between SGI and the expanded MICE department of Central Holidays.
3. Travel agent portal to provide more resources for our Travel agencies partners.
We will soon be opening a brand-new travel agent portal on our website with services available only to our Travel Advisor partners. We’ve been working hard to make this a project a reality, and we look forward to announcing more details early in the new year.
4. Our 5 new brochures will be distributed next month with new programs across the destinations we serve.
We take great pride in creating exclusive itineraries, uniquely presented by Central Holidays, and are constantly adding new offerings and enhancements to our range of vacations. Our new expanded 2020 brochures include: Italy; Europe, featuring Greece, France, Malta, Spain; Portugal, & Croatia; Egypt; Latin America; and Africa & West Asia, presenting Israel, Eastern & Southern Africa, the UAE, Jordan, & Oman.