Egypt tourism in meltdown as British airlines refuse to fly to Sharm after plane bomb
- The resort shows no sign of recovering after the jet crashed in October
- All 224 passengers died in what was almost certainly a terrorist attack
- Tourist numbers have dropped by more than 85 per cent since the crash
- FCO officials do not raise any concerns about terror attacks in the resort
Egypt is facing economic misery after British tourists stopped flying to Sharm el-Sheikh.
The resort shows no sign of recovering after a Russian holiday jet crashed, killing all 224 passengers, in October, in what was almost certainly a terrorist bomb attack.
Egyptian authorities, anxious to maintain desperately needed income from visitors, have been reluctant to admit to any ongoing security problems, or even that a bomb probably downed the plane – but both Britain and Russia still advise against flying to the Red Sea resort.
As a result, tourist numbers have plummeted by more than 85 per cent, and hotels and other business in Sharm el- Sheikh are struggling to survive. Egypt’s tourism income as a whole is said to be £120m a month down.
The Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh is facing crisis after British tourists stopped travelling there, after a Russian holiday jet crashed in October (pictured) killing all 24 people on board
The official advice from Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes clear that terrorism is a risk in Egypt, and that some areas should not be visited at all.
Travellers are warned that ‘UK airlines are no longer operating flights from Sharm el-Sheikh’ and that anyone there should make careful decisions about the risks they face – although FCO officials do not raise any concerns about terror attacks within the resort.
Yet the attack on the Russian holiday jet was a far from isolated incident in Egypt.
Ten years ago eleven Britons were among 88 people massacred by terrorists in Sharm el Sheikh, and in 1997 six Britons were among 62 tourists gunned down by Islamists while visiting the ancient remains at Luxor.
In recent years Egypt has been riven by popular uprisings which unseated long-term president Hosni Mubarak, briefly allowed a flowering of democracy, but then led to army strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi becoming president.
Supporters of Islamic State are now active in the Sinai region which surrounds Sharm el-Sheikh.
And although the Egyptian government is anxious to revive tourism, a major source of foreign exchange for the struggling economy, the West has limited confidence in its ability to guarantee safety.
The Daily Mail discovered after the Russian jet disaster that many hotels in Sharm were using entirely useless bomb and weapons detectors – which, astonishingly, had been produced by the Egyptian army. The devices had no power source and were based on fake science first cooked up by a gang of English conmen.
The official advice from Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes clear that terrorism is a risk in Egypt, and that some areas should not be visited at all. Pictured, British tourists arrive at the airport in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 9
Travellers are warned that ‘UK airlines are no longer operating flights from Sharm el-Sheikh’ and that anyone there should make careful decisions about the risks they face – although FCO officials do not raise any concerns about terror attacks within the resort
Regardless of the ongoing concerns British Airways and Easyjet have indicated that they may consider resuming flights to Sharm in February. Sharm as a modern resort was developed at the instigation of Mubarak, who wanted to broaden Egypt’ s attractions beyond the pyramids and temples which have been drawing visitors since before the birth of Christ.
Another country to see an unsurprising tourist slump is Tunisia, to the west along the north African coast, where 38 holidaymakers including 30 Britons were massacred by an Islamist in June last year.
Yesterday a grieving mother whose son, brother and father were slaughtered in the Tunisia terror attack criticised tour operators for offering cut-price holidays to the same resort.
Tragic Joel Richards, 19, was gunned down alongside his uncle Adrian Evans, 49, and granddad Patrick Evans, 78, during the massacre in Sousse on June 26 last year.
Joel’s younger brother Owen, 16, survived the attack but saw his family killed as terrorist Seifeddine Rezgui sprayed bullets at sunbathing tourists.
The Foreign Office still advises against all but essential travel to Tunisia following the attack.
But just six months after the massacre, Britain’s biggest tour operators are now offering discounts of up to 40 per cent on trips to the area.
Thomas Cook is offering a seven night stay at the Hotel El Mouradi in Port El Kantaoui for £279 per person, which is a 39 per cent discount on the usual £456 price.
And holiday giant Thomson has also cut prices for a week at the luxurious Sensimar Scherazade in Sousse by 21 per cent to £431 per person.
Joel’s mother Suzy Richards, 46, from Wednesbury, West Midlands, branded the holiday companies ‘irresponsible’.