TOURISM in the once bustling and busy Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheik has been the focus for UK tourism boards who have put pressure on the government to revoke a flight ban to the resort.
Sharm El Sheik was one of the Britain’s most popular tourist destinations but since political unrest and the downing of a Russian jet last year, the resort has been left a ghost town.
However, UK tour operators have been in a meeting to discuss the future of holiday making at the resort. The meeting which was held in the House of Commons, gave tour operators the chance to put forward their suggestions as well as demonstrate the economic impact the ‘ban’ on flights to Sharm El Sheik has.
Since November 2015, the UK government has advised against people travelling to Egypt as a result of the terrorist attack on the Russian MetroJet airliner which killed 224 people onboard.
Rasha Azaizi director of the Egyptian State Tourist Office in London was present at the meeting, he said: “This long-term ban on flights to Sharm el-Sheikh is now affecting many UK travel businesses as well as airlines and is causing deep consumer confusion.”
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise that it is safe to visit Sharm el-Sheikh but not to go through the airport…no other country apart from Russia still has a flight ban on flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, but the UK government has still not yet made a decision” Azaizi said.
Adding that it is misleading to suggest British operators won’t travel to Egypt he said: “This gives people the impression that they can’t visit Egypt when in fact British Airways, easyjet, Thomas Cook, Thomson and Egyptair are all already operating direct flights to other airports in Egypt.”
During the meeting, other operators expressed than British businesses were penalised when compared to German and Russian operators who unlike the UK were allowed to fly to Sharm El Sheik.
“Speak up about the impact of the ban”
Sir Gerald Howarth, MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Egypt advised travel operators should “speak up about the impact of the ban” on their businesses.
Travel in Tunisia has also been plagued since the 2015 Sousse attacks after an ISIS gunman shot at holidaymakers at the RUI Imperial Marhaba hotel leaving 38 people dead. Since then more than 90% of hotels have reported low numbers of visitors and many have had to close permanently.
There are only very few websites offering cheap deals to Tunisia, holiday’s are bookable but flights to nearby Monastir are not served by British operators anymore.
It has been strongly recommended by the Home Office that people shouldn’t travel to Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey and some parts of the Middle East as a result of political unrest, forcing travel operators across the world to cancel excursions and trips to the countries.