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Egypt Riots – Effect of Protests on Egypt’s Holiday Industry?
With news of the demonstrations in Egypt being centre stage in the last few days, you would be forgiven for thinking that holidays to this country had been all but stopped. News last night showed people returning from Cairo talking of looting, vigilantes and trouble all around and of being very scared.
Protests continue in the major cities, there are tanks on the streets and there has been commentary about the police force and their alleged brutality. The internet and mobile phone networks have been cut and we have even seen demonstrations at embassies here in London.
However, this is a world away from the Egypt that many Brits experience on their holidays.
Until about ten years ago, the bulk of holidaymakers headed to Cairo, Luxor and the Nile to soak up the sun, but more importantly to visit the stunning historic sites such as the pyramids at Giza, the Karnak temples and Valley of the Kings and Queens in Luxor or the museum of antiquities in Cairo for the Tutankhamen treasures. Couple those up with a Nile cruise or a stay in one of the many hotels along the Nile and you have the makings of a wonderful holiday, which can be enjoyed year round.
Thomas Cook opened up much of Egypt with its Nile cruises and expeditions at the turn of the century and these holidays are a highlight for many travellers as they travel the world. In fact, Egypt was my first holiday outside of Europe and I was completely blown away by the incredible sites, the friendliness of its people and the sense of history and tradition.
Over time, charter flights were introduced to Luxor and the concept of a week’s winter sun at bargain prices entered the holiday market. The bazaar and market sellers have got so used to us Brits they even advertise their wares with the cries of ‘Asda price’ as you browse the shops and stalls.
And this tourist trade has become huge business for the Egyptian economy despite problems with terrorist activities over the years.
But today, the bulk of us going to Egypt are flying to the Red Sea. Resort areas such as Sharm el Sheikh, Marsa Alam and Hurghada attract literally thousands on holiday flights from all over the UK. Even easyJet fly there, which just shows how busy it has become. We go for the sun, the snorkelling and diving and the beaches, knowing that we will get great value for money in one of the many resort hotels. In fact Sharm would not be there if it was not for tourism as there are no major conurbations in the area to speak of.
And it is this remoteness from the major cities that has resulted in the advice today whereby the FCO is saying not to travel to Cairo and the other cities, yet holidays to the Red Sea resorts can continue. Whilst this advice is changing daily, it is possible that these areas could continue as normal, receiving holidaymakers and their important tourist Pounds, Dollars and Euros as the remainder of the country is in turmoil.
Holidaymakers are justifiably concerned about safety and anyone planning a trip in the coming weeks and months should keep in touch with the latest FCO advice. In addition you should check with your tour operator, agent or airline for any changes in travel plans.
It would be a real shame if things degenerated to a point where all travel was cancelled. It would be even worse if looting started destroying the tourist infrastructure. And it would be criminal if the historic sites that draw so many to this country were to suffer in any way.
Let us all hope that whatever the outcome of the current problems, a safe and peaceful Egypt can emerge with the people of the country happy in their Government and ready to welcome back the tourists to this amazing country.