Published on Thursday, August 15, 2013
Tourist excursions in Sharm el Sheikh have been cancelled and police in Hurghada are advising tourists not to leave their hotels as violence escalates in Egypt.
Letters have been posted through hotel bedroom doors in Hurghada advising holidaymakers to stay within the grounds of their hotels and telling them that all excursions are cancelled.
On a TripAdvisor forum on the subject, one holidaymaker staying at the Iberotel Aquamarine said she had received a letter last night from Thomson and from tourist police telling her to stay in the hotel. She said it was business as usual in the hotel and that she felt safe but "unsettled".
Others due to travel in the coming weeks said they were concerned and confused about whether to cancel their holidays.
One Thomas Cook client said he was seriously worried about his trip in four weeks time.
"I am fairly experienced when it comes to traveling but not experienced enough to be traveling to a near chaotic middle eastern country. I'm seriously worried right now," he wrote.
Thomas Cook said its teams on the ground have confirmed no tourist areas have been further impacted and that "customers continue to enjoy these popular resorts".
"The Red Sea resorts are a considerable distance from Cairo (400 km/8 hours)," it said. "As we will continue to operate our flying and holiday programme to Red Sea destinations, normal booking conditions apply should any customer wish to amend or cancel.
"However, we can confirm that we have cancelled excursions from the Red Sea resorts to Cairo, Luxor, Moses Mountain and St Catherine's Monastery until further notice."
Kuoni has also cancelled all its Egypt excursions for 30 days.
Egypt has declared a month-long state of emergency after more than 500 people were killed yesterday (Wednesday) when government security forces stormed the protest camps of the supporters of the deposed president, Mohammed Morsi.
The Foreign Office is advising against all travel to Egypt, but is still not advising against travel to the Red Sea resorts.
Instead, it is advising British tourists in the resorts to follow regulations set by the local authorities and to obey curfews, and to carry identification at all times.
A curfew was declared overnight but tour operators were allowed to continue carrying out airport transfers to Sharm el Sheik. Tourists going to other resorts, mainly Dahab, were taken to Sharm el Sheik overnight and then allowed to travel onto their final destination this morning.
The British Embassy in Cairo was closed to the public yesterday and remains closed today.
The violence in Egypt threatens to further hurt the country's economy by dragging down its vital tourism industry and depleting its foreign-exchange reserves.
ABTA said there were about 40,000 British tourists in Egypt, predominantly at the Red Sea resorts.
Egypt's tourism minister Hisham Zaazou told AFP that the sector is suffering even more, as the current unrest is hitting the peak season.
"In the first 15 days of July 2013, Egypt welcomed 387,000 tourists compared with 515,000 tourists in the same period last year," Zaazou said.
by Bev Fearis and Ian Jarrett
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