Britain sends security team to Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt to assess terror threat


Britain has sent a security team to assess the terror threat to the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

A favourite winter sun destination for Brits, the security team, thought to include members of the armed forces, was flown out ahead of holidaymakers preparing to jet off to the Red Sea resort for the Easter break.

The trip came after a tourist bus was hit by a roadside bomb in Taba, near the Israel border, killing the driver and three South Koreans in February.

The attack was claimed by Sinai-based jihadists in a campaign against the Egyptian regime, protesting the overthrowing of former President Mohammed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some tour operators, including Thomas Cook and Tui, flew hundreds of German tourists home after Germany changed its travel advice.

The British Foreign Office (FCO) changed its advice to tourists in the aftermath of the attack to sanctioning travel only within the Sharm el-Sheik security perimeter barrier, advising against trips to other nearby resorts like Dahab and Taba, or excursions to famous sites like Petra in Jordan.

The Egyptian ambassador to London, Ashraf Elkholy, appealed to the government to resist pressure to change its advice to travellers. He said the FCO didn't need to tighten its travel restrictions, as extra security measures has been put in place around Sharm.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he said he hoped the Egyptian security cordon put up around Sharm el Sheik resorts was enough: "We have had a team from the security forces of Britain in the tourist areas to monitor the measures and see what measures are in place that are satisfactory.

"The security team has been there and we have cooperated and we hope that the decision taken will be the right one.

"Tourism is for the benefit of the Egyptian economy and the British traveller as an affordable and close destination."

Whitehall officials said there would be looking at the situation closely and changing travel advice if anything necessitated the move.

The Daily Mail reports there has been a 24 per cent drop in European tourists visiting the country in January and February this year, compared with 2013 figures.

The news comes following recent claims that a British woman was raped by a luxury hotel security guard in Sharm el-Sheik.

Two hotels in Sharm el-Sheik had their licences revoked following the alleged rape of the British businesswoman.

The Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) issued a statement last week saying the five-star Hilton Sharks Bay Resort and the Sharm Holiday Resort had their licences suspended while investigations take place.

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Britain sends security team to Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt to assess terror threat

OK, so it’s still a bit chilly to be frolicking in the seas around Britain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on the coast this month. Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks in north Devon opens a top-notch new family entertainment centre at its Twitchen House Holiday Village this Easter. The £2.5m attraction has boosted this fun palace with a new 10-pin bowling alley, cinema, craft centre and indoor soft-play area. Evening entertainment will take place in the new Show Lounge, and a couple of quirky dining options have been introduced poolside - a café on a coastal theme and a retro milkshake bar.

Try this: A three-night break at Twitchen House Holiday Village (0843 208 0368; costs from £99 for a family of four staying in a Beach Retreat caravan holiday home.

P&O unveils new fly-cruises around the Mediterranean this month. Its ship, Ventura, will be based in the area for the summer, offering seven and 14-night holidays on land and sea from April to October. Tick off Italy, Spain, France, Monaco, Greece, Croatia and Corsica along the way. Meanwhile, on board, there are four pools, a spa and gym, kids’ clubs, and even a theatre. Foodies can take their pick of menus by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar in East and Marco Pierre White in The White Room, while TV personality Olly Smith has selected the wine list in The Glass House grill and bar.

Try this: A seven-night Italy and Croatia cruise with P&O Cruises (0843 373 0111; starts at £699 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights and resort transfers, an inside cabin, full-board, children’s clubs and entertainment on board. Departing 2 April from Genoa, ports of call include Florence/Pisa, Naples, Dubrovnik and overnight in Venice.

Breathe in the heady scent of spring in Provence, southern France. Its byways will be perfumed by the wild thyme that swathes the meadows. The “Best of Roman Provence” self-guided walking break from Inntravel traces a route through quaint villages including Arpaillargues, where the muse of composer Franz Listz once lived. It plunges deeper into the countryside, too, to reveal the ancient Roman aqueduct the Pont du Gard. After a hard day on your feet, cool off in the private pools at handpicked hotels that connect your route, three comfortable hostelries serving excellent local food.

Try this: Inntravel (01653 617000; offers the four-night “Best of Roman Provence” walking break from £1,078 per person based on two sharing, including return rail travel, four nights’ half-board accommodation, two picnic lunches, and airport transfers. 

They say Morgans Hotel Group invented the concept of the boutique hotel 30 years ago. It’s timely then in this anniversary year that the company is preparing to open a very special property, Mondrian London. The hotel will welcome guests for the first time this month to Sea Containers House on the South Bank, an iconic feature of the River Thames. The 14-storey building was designed in the 1970s by the American Modernist architect Warren Platner, whose work included cruise liners, which, as you’ll see, inspired the interiors here. Though the building was always meant to be a hotel, it became an office block, only now realising its true purpose - and with some style.  

Try this: Mondrian London ( offers rooms from £175 per night.

You can be sure of a warm welcome in the heel of Italy this month, one of Italy’s surest bets for sunny days at this time of year. Explore beyond the familiar highways of the Valle d’Itria, home of the curious conical shaped trulli dwellings. Salento is the next stop on the map for visitors keen to find unspoilt corners of Italy. These flatlands, at the very spike of the heel, are covered in olive trees - most of Italy’s food is produced in Puglia - with warrenous old towns crammed with ancient churches and palaces, as well as a wild rugged coast.

Try this: A week’s stay at Corte Del Francesi in Maglie through Long Travel (01694 722193; costs from £512 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights and car hire.

A goodie for sunseekers who don’t want to stray too far and prefer not to be overwhelmed by other tourists, too. But the later in the month you can wait to make a trip to Cyprus, the warmer this island in the eastern Med will be. For the best weather, head east on the island, for the port town of Larnaca. A lively old place, it’s got plenty of modern-day comforts for visitors. Yet, the town hasn’t forgotten its heritage, with a lovely palm-lined promenade, old Turkish quarter and 17th-century fort.

Try this: A week’s B&B at the LA Hotel and Beach Resort in Larnaca costs from £399 per person, based on two sharing, with Direct Traveller (020-8547 2857;, including return flights, transfers and the services of a rep.

St Lucia may be but a drop in the Caribbean ocean, but exploring this volcanic island could take you days. Why? Because of its mountainous terrain, which the roads twist and turn around, dipping through quiet local communities of gingerbread cottages, at one moment buried in the rainforest, the next emerging on a cliffside with views across miles of open coast kissed by turquoise waters. The resort strip in in the north-west, above the capital Castries, where you’ll also find one of the Caribbean’s finest examples of colonial ruins from the days of slavery at Pigeon Island.

Try this: Travelbag (0845 543 6615; offers seven nights at the St Lucian by Rex Resort from £889 per person, based on two sharing, including return charter flights and all-inclusive accommodation. Book by 31 January to save a further 10 per cent.

Who turned the lights on! Pull on those Aviators, because the world doesn’t get more bright and brilliant (or glamourous) than this necklace of islands in the Indian Ocean. The eye-goggling starts the moment you step off the plane: the bluest seas and skies, the whitest sands - and that’s before you’ve peered beneath the surface of the water at the Day-Glo marine kingdom below. The Maldives is home to some of the most luxurious resorts in the world - and a growing number of excellent yet not so eye-wateringly expensive options, too. This is a great month to visit, while the sea is at its warmest, if you like your watersports.

Try this: Sovereign Luxury Travel (0843 770 4526; offers seven nights at the five-star Baros Maldives from £2,329 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, lounge access, transfers, and B&B in a Deluxe Villa. Departs 2 April. Book by 31 January.

It’s the height of the cherry blossom - sakura - season this month in Japan, one of nature’s shortest yet most splendid shows, which spreads north through the Far East country in March and April. Join your Japanese hosts in the annual custom of hanami. This convivial tradition sees locals head for the mountains and municipal parks to throw sake parties in the shade of the clouds of delicate pink and white petals.

Try this: Inside Japan Tours (0117-370 9751; has a 14-night “Best of Japan” tailored trip from £2,690 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, 14 nights’ accommodation, transport, private guiding in Tokyo and Kyoto and some meals.

There’s still time to hit the slopes in North America. If you’re prepared to gamble on the snow conditions you could strike white gold for this is a cheaper and quieter time to travel to the pistes. In Canada, the glacier on Blackcomb Mountain keeps the skiers amused into June, while sunny Mammoth in California closes similarly late. Heavenly, on the border of Nevada, and Squaw Valley, on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, also draw out the season into late spring.

Try this: Ten nights in Heavenly with Ski Safari (01273 224060; costs from £1,299 per person, based on four sharing a two-bedroom suite at the Ridge at Tahoe, including return flights, transfers and B&B.

Hayman Island on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia re-launches as a super-luxe One&Only resort this month (00 617 49 401 838;, following an A$50m (£28m) spruce up. The private island resort in the Whitsundays, off the Queensland coast, is One&Only’s first hotel in Australia and its makeover includes new suites, a signature spa and beauty salon, children’s club and new outdoor areas for mingling. As it’s spring, you can be sure of good yet not stifling temperatures.

Try this: Trailfinders (020-7368 1200; offers four nights’ B&B at the One&Only Hayman Island in a Hayman Lagoon Room, followed by three nights at the five-star Sheraton in Sydney from £2,099. The price includes return flights from London and transfers.

The Algarve is heating up beautifully this month and it's the perfect time to go as you'll avoid the relentless heat of summer. Think wide beaches and beguiling old towns, lovely food and friendly locals. The holiday: Get away from the crowds by going off the beaten track a little and head for the Western Algarve, where the beautiful Martinhal Resort and Spa boasts a fabulous location on a nature reserve. This family-friendly gem offers a range of accommodation, from private villas to hotel rooms. Time from the UK: 2 hours.


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