Tour operators steer clear of Cairo but Red Sea still on itinerary
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS (Reuters) - At least one French tour operator has postponed trips to Egypt, while German and Swiss firms halted visits to Cairo as protests erupted following the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.
Yet UK and German operators said it was otherwise business as usual in the country, as tourists were mainly heading for the Red Sea area, miles away from centers of unrest such as Cairo and Alexandria.
The British and German foreign ministries have advised against all non-essential travel to Egypt, apart from to popular Red Sea resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh, while the French authorities have issued a travel warning for all of Egypt.
"We are giving our members the travel guidelines of the French foreign ministry," said Jean-Marc Roze, head of the French travel agencies federation (SNAV). "We are monitoring a situation that may evolve rapidly."
Thomas Cook France said it was offering its 130 clients already in the Arab country the option to shorten their stay and had postponed trips to Egypt until July 14.
"Of course we can expect that there will be an impact, certainly with what's happening this week," said John Kester, program coordinator for market trends at the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
"Tourism is a ... very important sector for the economy, so it's in their interests to return to normal as quickly as possible," Kester said.
Egypt received 14 million international tourists in 2010, before the revolt that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Western Europeans are the largest group, followed by eastern Europeans and tourists from the Middle East. Continued...