Monday, 31 January 2011 12:00 AM
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is now advising against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez, as violent anti-government protests continue in Egypt.
A curfew imposed across the country by the Egyptian government has now been extended and runs from 15:00 to 08:00 local time.
Many flights from the UK to Cairo have been cancelled and some airlines have put on special flights to bring travellers home.
Australia and the US are now advising their citizens against all travel to Egypt.
Some flights are still operating, although schedules have been altered to fit in with the curfew. Over the weekend a BMI flight was forced to turn around and return home after three hours due to the change of curfew times.
The travel advice warning is for all four Cairo governorates of Cairo, Giza, Helwan and 6 October. Access to the Pyramids at Giza has been blocked by the Egyptian army.
The FCO is recommending British nationals who don’t “have a pressing need to be in Cairo, Alexandria or Suez leave by commercial means where it is safe to do so”.
For the thousands of holidaymakers in Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, tour operators are saying it is safe to stay. The FCO does report the situation in Sharm el Sheikh as calm, although the situation is unpredictable.
Skyscanner.net chief executive Gareth Williams comments: “Despite claims that Red Sea tourist resorts remain unaffected by the current troubles, we’ve seen searches to Sharm fall by almost 40 per cent, which isn’t surprising – it is unlikely anyone would actively choose to holiday in a resort where there are tanks on the streets, as is now the case in Sharm, even if it is a precautionary measure.”
Mr Williams points out that the long term impact on Egypt’s vital tourism industry could be significant: “Although we would expect people to postpone or cancel any plans to holiday in Egypt over the coming months, searches for the summer months are actually the worst hit, with searches to Sharm el Sheikh down by over 60 per cent, and this downward trend could continue even if the situation is resolved quickly.
“Searches to Tunisia, which was also recently affected by political unrest, are still feeling the impact, despite the fact that the FCO is not longer advising against travel to the country.”
Today is the seventh day of protest against the 30-year regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
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