In 2000, Egypt launched a major tourist initiative to remind people throughout the world of one of the major events of biblical history: the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. The program encourages travelers to retrace the steps of Jesus Christ with his mother, the Virgin Mary, and Joseph into Egypt.
[Restoration efforts are mentioned and the National Egyptian Heritage Revival Association, NEHRA]
Since the tourist initiative was launched, several travel agencies and organizations have put together special itineraries combining sightseeing, culture and history, and as well as religious devotion.
Arab West Report (+202 753 0227) is one of these organizations that plans Holy Family tours in Egypt. The "Holy Family Pilgrimages" program is organized under the auspices of the Shobra Al-Kheima Bishopric. It offers one-day trips from Cairo to sites such as Wadi Natrun, Tel Basta, Sakha, Samannoud and Dimyana, as well as sites like Zaytoun and Matariya. Prices range from LE125 to LE200 per person. There are also overnight and two-night trips to sites north and south of Minya (Gabal Al-Teir and Deir Abu Hinnis), the Biblical land of Goshen (east of the Delta), and Assiut (Al-Moharraq and Dronka Monasteries). Prices range from LE300 to LE600 per person, depending on the number of participants in each trip. Prices include transportation in air-conditioned buses, accommodation, meals, drinks, documentation, guides and entrance fees to archaeological sites. Photography fees and insurance, however, are excluded. Accommodations are offered in either churches or hotels, depending on the location.
The Arab West Report is not a travel agency, but an independent organization reporting on Arab-West relations and the co-existence of Muslims and Christians in Egypt and the Arab world. The organization does, however, offer customized group visits to the Holy Family sites in conjunction with several expatriate churches in Cairo.
According to Dr Cornelius Hulsman, the editor-in-chief of the Arab-West Report and co- author of "Be Thou There, the Holy Family’a Journey in Egypt," published by AUC press , the purpose of the Holy Family pilgrimages is to create an understanding between different cultures. "We want to encourage the visits of expatriates to any of the Holy Family locations because this will greatly enhance their understanding of Egypt’s most prominent Christian tradition. Not many traditions in the world are as old as this one, the first record of which comes from the fourth century. This tradition is the link between the Gospels and the church in Egypt and is still very much alive today," he told Al-Ahram Weekly.
The full text of the Al-Ahram supplement on the Holy Family can be read on their website: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/670/travel.htm
The supplement includes travel tips and guidelines.