Contrary to popular belief, tourism is not dead in all of Egypt. The situation in the popular Red Sea destinations of Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, Taba, and Marsa Alam remains “safe” with hotels operating “business as usual” according to Thomson Travels.
Although the British Foreign Office has advised its nationals against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Luxor, British tour operators offered a string of promotions this week on holidays in Egypt's Red Sea resorts which remain popular with holidaymakers despite unrest elsewhere in the country stressing that they are far from the main flashpoints.
Thomas Cook has a one-week holiday in an all-inclusive, four-star Sharm el-Sheikh hotel at £319. First Choice is offering a two-week holiday in the resort from £359 flying from London. Thomson has flights seats at £79 on a one-way flight from Edinburgh to Sharm el-Sheikh, and return flights from Manchester at £159 leaving Wednesday for 10 days in the resort. Other return flights from Britain to Red Sea destinations were priced at £149 with some flights nearly full.
The two biggest tour operators in Britain, Thomas Cook and TUI Travel, which runs Thomson and First Choice, offered several deals to the Red Sea. A spokeswoman for TUI Travel said that Sharm el-Sheikh "operates like a country in itself", run separately from the rest of Egypt, with one main road in and low unemployment due to the tourism industry. TUI Travel also said that there had been no incidents related to the uprising in the Red Sea resorts, where it was "business as usual".
"The atmosphere is quiet and calm, with Sharm el-Sheikh's main resort of Naama Bay bustling as people continue to enjoy their holidays as normal," the spokeswoman said. “The curfew is only imposed in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. It is not being enforced in any Red Sea resort to which we operate. Booking conditions to Sharm el Sheikh, Marsa Alam, Taba and Hurgharda remain as normal” – in other words, if you cancel your trip, you will lose most or all of your money. Thomas Cook is taking the same line, saying “no tourist areas at the Red Sea have been affected in any way by the recent demonstrations
Egypt’s tourism industry has been one of the few success stories of the global downturn. Its excellent value, guaranteed sun and unrivalled cultural attractions have proved a huge hit with cash-strapped European source markets. Although the recent uprisings will impose a huge price tag on the damage to the tourism industry for months to come, for now it appears that the Red Sea resort destinations are still safe...and cheaper than ever.