Touts are middle men, who earn a commission from introducing tourists to shop keepers, travel agents, felucca captains and other service providers.
While this business model may exist the world over, touts in Egypt are in a class of their own, unrelenting in their bid to earn their cut.
You will come across this phenomenon in just about every Egyptian town or resort that attracts international tourists.
A short stroll along the cornice in Aswan can seem like a long trek as touts approach one after the other, not the slightest bit deterred by your rejection of their predecessor.
Generally speaking, there is little that can be gained by dealing with touts in Egypt. In some cases, you will literally be paying extra for them to walk you into a shop you would have entered anyway of your own accord.
If you are price sensitive, don’t be fooled by the tout’s promises of ultra-low prices.
If it sounds too good to be true it usually is and will only end up in disputes later in the trip. It’s much better to approach the service provider directly to bargain a good price.
Alternatively, if you want your trip to be organised on your behalf, then it’s much better to go through your hotel, or a reputable travel agent. You will still be paying a commission, but you are much more likely to get what you asked for, and will at least have somewhere to voice your complaints if things do not occur as promised.
When walking in any resort with a high hassle factor, it’s worth learning the two golden words “La Shukran” (meaning ‘no thank you’ - read the basic Arabic guide).
Utter these words and then walk on regardless. You may find yourself saying them a lot at first, but the message will soon get through.