How the Hamas-Israel conflict is ruining tourism in Egypt

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt's premier resort, is available at unprecedented low fares  (Simon Calder)
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt's premier resort, is available at unprecedented low fares (Simon Calder)

One month on from the Hamas assault on Israel, tourism to Egypt is suffering, with one industry source telling The Independent that bookings for Egyptian Red Sea resorts through their company had fallen by 80 per cent.

The conflict means adventure travellers are also switching away from Egypt, according to Darrell Wade, chair and co-founder of tour operator Intrepid Travel.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent for the daily travel podcast, he said: “We’ve definitely seen quite a lot of cancellations over the last two to three weeks.

“So that’s worrying – worrying for the people of Egypt, to be honest it’s not worrying for us because people tend to rebook somewhere else.

“But for the people on the ground in Egypt, yes, it’s very worrying.”

The Foreign Office still regards the tourist areas of Egypt as safe enough for British visitors – though the country is not without incidents.

Last month an Egyptian police officer is reported to have shot and killed two Israeli tourists and an Egyptian tour guide in Alexandria.

On 27 October, military drones believed to have been dispatched by Houthi forces in Yemen landed in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

Air fares to and from Egypt have fallen to unprecedented levels. Wizz Air is selling flights from London Gatwick and Luton to the premier Egyptian resort, Sharm el-Sheikh, for £45 one way. The distance is over 2,400 miles.

With Air Passenger Duty at £87, the budget airline is selling at a significant loss.

Both Wizz Air and easyJet have just launched flights from Sphinx International airport, near the pyramids in Giza. Next week a typical fare on easyJet is £40 from the Egyptian airport to Luton.

Yet Philip Breckner, commercial director of the specialist company Discover Egypt, told The Independent that many British holidaymakers are still travelling to Egypt.

“We’ve had a lot of individuals and families, several hundred people traveling in the last few weeks,” he said.

“All we’ve received back is compliments and positive feedback. People are calling us and we’re explaining the situation as it is. The Foreign Office advice has not materially changed in the last few months or even the last year apart from the references to the Gaza border.

“So Luxor. Aswan, the Nile and Cairo have all been safe to travel.”

However, Mr Breckner forecasts that travel to Egypt will continue.

“I’ve seen wars, I’ve seen intifadas. I’ve seen revolutions. And tourism has always come back,” he said.