Britons confined to hotel grounds

HurghadaBritons have been confined to their hotel grounds in a Red Sea resort following continuing unrest in Egypt.

But although Germany has advised its nationals not to travel to Egypt, the UK Foreign Office (FO) is saying it is currently NOT advising against travel to the country's Red Sea resorts.

Having advised Britons in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada to remain in their hotel grounds, the FO said: "We currently do not advise against travel to the Red Sea resorts, but advise British nationals to check our travel advice before going there.

"We have urged British nationals to obey the regulations set out by the local authorities and the curfew, if they are in a resort affected by this."

The FO went on: "We are aware of clashes in Hurghada on August 14 and reports of a man being shot dead.

"We are concerned by these reports, and continue to follow developments around the Red Sea resorts closely, but do not judge that the resorts themselves are currently affected by the unrest."

UK travel organisation Abta estimated there were around 40,000 Britons in Egypt at the moment and reckoned that future bookings would be affected by the fact that the FO is advising against travel to areas away from the Red Sea resorts such as Cairo and Luxor.

UK tour operators Thomson and First Choice have 11,769 British holidaymakers in Egypt, many of them in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh and the others in neighbouring Hurghada, Taba and Marsa Alam.

A spokeswoman for the two tour operators said: "The safety of our customers is always our number one priority. Following the reported demonstrations in Cairo and other locations, the FO is advising against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.

"It is not currently advising British nationals to leave the country and the advice has not changed for Sharm el Sheikh, Taba and Marsa Alam."

She went on: "We are continuing to work with the FO and monitoring the situation closely in Egypt. The majority of our customers are in Sharm el Sheikh which is a considerable distance - indeed, an eight hour drive - from Cairo.

"There have been no related incidents in Sharm el Sheikh, Taba, Marsa Alam and the tourist areas of Hurghada. The FO has recently updated its advice for Hurghada, following reported demonstrations in an area away from the tourist resorts.

"The FCO advises that enhanced security measures are in place to protect resort areas and as a precautionary measure customers are advised to remain within the grounds of their resort."

Thomson Airways had three return flights to Sharm el Sheikh today and two to Hurghada. Tomorrow, it has four return flights to Sharm el Sheikh, and five return flights to Sharm el Sheikh on Sunday.

The Thomson and First Choice spokeswoman said normal booking conditions regarding cancellation of holidays still apply for the four Egyptian resorts.

In light of the FO travel advice, Thomson Cruises has changed its itinerary for an Egypt & the Holy Land voyage on the Thomson Celebration vessel starting next Monday.

The company said: "All customers set to travel on Monday are being proactively contacted by our dedicated customer team and advised of this change.

"We understand this news will be disappointing for Thomson Cruise customers set to travel on this itinerary, but these circumstances are out of our control and we are doing everything possible to minimise the disruption to customers

The FO said: "As always, the safety of British nationals is a priority. We continue to follow developments carefully, and keep our travel advice under continuous review. The situation in Egypt is fluid, and British nationals should continue to monitor our travel advice closely for any updates."

A spokesman for UK travel organisation Abta said: "The latest figures show bookings to Egypt, in particular to the Red Sea resorts, to be up compared to this time last year, although they are still lower than three years ago, before the Arab spring.

"We estimate there are around 40,000 British holidaymakers currently in the Red Sea resorts. However, we'd expect bookings to be significantly impacted by current events specifically in those areas where the Foreign Office is advising against travel, notably Cairo and Luxor, which account for around 10% of British visitors."

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