Egypt Independent

Thomas Cook’s extension of Egypt travel ban ‘weird’: Tourism Ministry

Egypt’s Tourism Ministry has slammed Thomas Cook’s decision to extend the suspension of its travels to Sharm el-Sheikh, labelling it as "weird".

The decision of the British travel agency will have a negative impact on Egypt’s tourism sector, the ministry predicts.

The company said Tuesday it was extending its embargo, enforced in October 2015, on travel to Egypt until 31st of next October, thus making a one-year hiatus. The decision of last October coincided with a warning issued by the British Foreign Office advising against travel to the resort. This followed the crash of a Russian passenger plane destined for Sharm el-Sheikh that killed 224. Responsibility for the crash was claimed by Sinai-based extremist groups.

The British Foreign Office continues to advise against all but essential travel by air to Sharm el-Sheikh. Thomas Cook said that as there is no clear indication of when the warning would be lifted, the company will be extending their ban on flights and package holidays until 31 October.

Several countries followed Britain’s suit in halting flights to Egypt until improvements have been made to airport security in the country.

“The decision means that the destination is closed to the British tourist market that flows through Thomas Cook for a whole year, which is weird and negatively affects Egypt’s situation,” said Sami Mahmoud, head of the Egyptian Tourism Authority.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud told Al-Masry Al-Youm, Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou is currently meeting with Thomas Cook representatives at the ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show "to find practical solutions”.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm