Business as usual in Sharm el Sheikh

 Business as usual in Sharm el Sheikh

Whilst the eyes of the world media honed in on Cairo, 500km away in Sharm el Sheikh there are few signs that it is anything other than tourism business as usual. Further along the Red Sea, life in the popular beach resort of Hurghada appears to be equally unfazed.

Britons staying in Sharm el Sheikh, and other Red Sea resorts including Hurghada, are continuing with their holidays as normal, unaffected by the simmering protests taking place in cities across the country.

The UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has described the situation in the Red Sea resorts as “genuinely calm”. Meanwhile tourists continue to fly out to Sharm despite the escalating political problems in the capital, as well as Alexandria and Suez.

Sharm el Sheikh operates almost as a country within itself, and run separately from the rest of Egypt. Security is tights with just one main road in. Unemployment rates are low, with much of the local population employed in tourism.

In its latest report, Thomas Cook says: “The Red Sea Resorts including Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada are not affected by the demonstrations, and are a considerable distance from Cairo and are served by their own airports.

“Our experienced teams on the ground assure us that no tourist areas at the Red Sea have been affected in any way by the recent demonstrations. They are fully operational and holiday makers are continuing to enjoy these popular resorts. Flights to Sharm el Sheikh continue to operate as normal,” it added.

In a bid maintain occupancy rates, tour operators are offering generous discounts on holidays to Egypt.

Thomas Cook and TUI Travel, which runs Thomson and First Choice, are offering a number of last-minute deals to the Red Sea.

“Egypt has all the ingredients for a great last-minute holiday,” says the Thomas Cook website.

Thomas Cook has a one-week holiday starting Friday in an all-inclusive, four-star Sharm el-Sheikh hotel at £319, flying from Manchester.

First Choice is offering a two-week holiday in the resort from £359 flying from London Luton on February 17.

The security situation in the other popular package destination of Luxor is tighter, with FCO grading it the same as Cairo and recommending against “all but essential travel”.

Thomson and Thomas Cook have both cancelled their next flights to the resort. However both continue to advise packages departing next Monday.

Thomas Cook is offering packages to Luxor departing on Monday for just £225. Thomson has a luxury seven-night break from just £386 for bed and breakfast, a saving of £115.

Travel website Opodo also continues to advertising rooms in hundreds of hotels across the city, which is also a popular starting point for Nile cruises.

But tour operators also warn against ignoring safety warning in the pursuit of a bargain. Maria Whiteman, CEO of directline holidays commented on the Egypt situation:

“We would expect prices in Egypt to have come down quite significantly, however, unfortunately for travel companies and holiday makers alike, we can’t recommend this as a time to ‘bag a bargain’ because the situation out in Egypt is uncertain. We are instead directing customers to alternative destinations such as the Canary Islands which currently represent extremely good value and still offer good weather in close proximity to the UK.”