The talk of Egyptian tourism has become a broken record over the last two years. Many bemoan the world's misconceptions of Egypt, disregarding the value of what you might call internal tourism – in layman's terms, Egyptians enjoying Egypt. As a concept, that is surely a perfect first step – let's show the world that Egypt is still one of the most unique cultural and touristic destinations on Earth.
Many local event organizers and travel agencies have been doing just that, taking advantage of Egypt's many sights, especially outside of Cairo.
One such group is Kites – an initiative-come-company that specialises in organising all manner of adventure and event that is working steadily to improve local 'entertainment culture'.
Taking their individual experiences with events and activities undertaken in conjuction with the British Council, Adham Badawi, Ahmed Zenary, Mohamed Farouk, Mohamed Nasr and Ahmed Alaa combined their pool of talents in 2010, starting off with small trips to Fayoum.
As with the humble beginnings of any initiative, it was very much a DIY job for the adventure-seeking friends; the operation very quickly grew and Kites found themselves making and customising their own equipment for rental to fellow adventure-seeking Cairenes. Now, five years later, Kites has grown from a small company with five partners, to one with over twenty employees and a considerable reputation in local and international tourism for its camping, water sports trips and more, especially with young people.
But it wasn't always an easy ride for Kites – they were finally able to secure an office on January 25th 2011. That was a long time ago and our memories are hazy, but we seem to remember something pretty big happening that day. Needless to say, the circumstances of the country thwarted the team's plans just as they were about to reach fruition. The team would go on to pay rent for six months on an empty and unused office without any income.
But Kites also suffered the same difficulties as any other young business, for lack of a better word. The main problems the team faced were in manpower and finances; each trip or event would barely cover costs at first. Other problems came in the form of some classic Egyptian plagiarism; anecdotes from the original team tell of how, after successful trips to Wadi El Rayyan in Fayoum, they found travel agencies latching onto their success in the most peculiar of ways – by cloning their programs, down to using the very same font. Yes, the mind boggles and, according to the team, when these copycat trips are executed poorly, it only goes to damage the reputations of both Kites and Fayoum as a desirable destination.
Now a multi-faceted group, Kites organise local excursions, under the name 'Project Discover', that include parasailing, sand boarding, bungee jumping and even colour festivals, using only high quality equipment to ensure health and safety, as well as trips to all the different governorates. They also organise international trips to Europe and South East Asia under the name 'Project Universe'.
And so despite its setbacks, Kites stands as one of the most progressive organisations of its kind and, as other similar initiatives come into their own, is doing a fine job of promoting tourism and giving Egyptian residents the opportunity to enjoy the countries many unrealised possibilities.