Sharm el Sheikh revealed as worst destination for gastric bugs

British tourists have been prevented from going to Sharm since last October

Updated: 
Holiday Brits warned: The worst offender for gastric bugs on holiday is Sharm

Sunseekers taking advantage of travel to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt have been warned that the poor food hygiene in the resort won't just make you ill - it could also be a major cause of DROWNING​.

Although Brit tourists have been prevented from heading to Sharm by air since last October, he Prime Minister was urged last week to resume flights from the UK to the Egyptian resort.

See also: Egypt booze ban could hit tourism

See also: Emergency flights to bring home 20,000 British tourists from Sharm el-Sheikh


But in a further blow to the country's economy, tourists have been warned of increasing risks.

The area has been photographed as something of a ghost town since the terrorist bombing of a Russian passenger plane leaving Sharm heading to St Petersburg killed 224 people in 2015.

And now UK food scientist Richard Conroy says it's not just Islamic extremism you need to be wary of when considering a return.

He says Sharm is one of the worst offending tourist traps in the world when it comes to the risk of contracting nightmarish food bugs.

The founder of Sick Holiday, a firm which fights to win compensation for families who fall ill on vacation, says: "We deal with around 40,000 cases of holiday sickness a year and, while it was open, there was one offending resort that came up over and over again - and that was Sharm el-Sheikh.

"While some experts might be lobbying for UK flights to return their imminently, I'd heed caution, and not based on terrorism fears.

"Because there's another potential killer in the resort - and that's poor food hygiene.

"Some destinations have a robust health and safety system in place, where hygiene as a number one priority, with governments issuing large fines and even prison sentences to offenders.

"Others, however, do not."Mr Conroy believes that as well as a litany of cases where families have had to fly home early after falling ill, several deaths from diving could also be linked to gastric problems.

"For example, you are over 500 times more likely to contract food poisoning in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, than you are in Dubai.

"That's because of a whole variety of reasons ranging from contaminated water to unhygienically prepared food.

"And it's not simply a matter of holidaymakers being confined to their hotel bedrooms with diarrhoea, the situation is far more life-threatening than that in places like Sharm."

He says the Red Sea resort boasts some of the world's best scuba diving, which attracted an average of 9,000 British visitors a week when it was open for business.

"The resort is an absolute honeypot for scuba divers, with some of the best dive sites in the world.

"But my worry is that many divers risk getting into serious trouble if they head out in the water with an upset stomach - something that's more likely in Sharm than anywhere else."

The human body has an involuntary reaction whereupon, immediately after being sick, we take a sharp intake of breath.

"Do that in the sea and you'll fill your lungs with salt water and you'll drown.

"While precise figures aren't kept, I'd hazard a guess that a large percentage of drowning victims in the Red Sea may have suffered this precise scenario."

Conroy's comments come after Sir Gerald Howarth, chairman of the cross-party parliamentary group on Egypt, advised PM Theresa May to end the travel ban to Sharm with immediate effect.

He argued that significant progress has been made on security and even warned of a risk of people in Sharm becoming "radicalised" if the tourism industry continues to suffer.

But before tourists head back, Mr Conroy adds that action must be taken: "We want tour operators to channel their considerable power and resources into cleaning-up the hotels they are placing tourists in. Let's get Sharm el-Sheikh as clean as Dubai and end food poisoning.

"Given three months of health and hygiene work with the hotels in Sharm el-sheikh, food poisoning would be a thing of the past."

In August 2014, a Sharm el-Sheikh holiday bug left more than 100 Britons bed-ridden and many on drips after an outbreak of illness at a four-star Egypt holiday resort.

Last year Marc Trundley and partner Hayley Gavin paid £1,520 for 11-night holiday - but spent half their stay bed-ridden at the five-star Royal Grand Sharm hotel after suffering a severe gastric illness five days after arriving.

And in March, Thomson paid a family £15,000 compensation after their Sharm el-Sheikh holiday was cut short by severe food poisoning.

Amanda Rowley and her children fell ill just days after arriving in Egypt, with symptoms including diarrhoea, stomach cramps and high temperatures.

They had been staying at the five-star Sensatori Resort at Sharm el-Sheikh.

Monarch Airlines recently announced that it will not resume flights to Sharm el-Sheikh on October 30, as it had originally planned, but it is still taking bookings from 10 February through to the end of April despite no indication from the Government on a change in rules.

British Airways has said that flights are cancelled indefinitely, while other carriers remain more optimistic.

Thomson and First Choice has cancelled most holidays until February 2017, but has said that a reduced number are still currently scheduled to depart after September 29.

Thomas Cook has slated February 2017 as a possible date for flights to resume.

EasyJet has said it will not be selling flights for the 2016 winter season, but "remains committed to resuming services to Sharm after the Government allows UK airlines to do so".

The FCO is being non-committal on when its travel advice will be softened.

To date, it has issued a careful statement saying it is "liaising with travel companies so that they are able to resume flights and holidays in Sharm el Sheikh as soon as appropriate security arrangements are in place."

If the situation remains unchanged then the FCO warning is expected to stay in place.