German tour operators started bringing clients back from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh Red Sea resort on Thursday Feb. 27 after Germany’s Foreign Office advised against travel to the entire Sinai peninsula.
The German Foreign Office had on Wednesday recommended that its citizens refrain from travel to the beach resorts on the peninsula and said those there should make arrangements with their travel agent to return early.
Alltours said it was bringing back this evening 120 people currently in Sharm el-Sheikh, while TUI Germany and Thomas Cook Germany said they were organizing travel back to Germany for its customers there.
The recent bombing of a coach carrying Korean tourists has led to renewed concerns for tourism in Egypt, an industry which provides a livelihood for millions and the government with much-needed foreign currency.
Germans and Russians are the most numerous visitors to the country, which saw tourism revenues drop 41 percent to USD$5.9 billion last year due to the waves of unrest that have disrupted the country since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.
The advice from Germany was not equivalent to a full warning that would force all tour companies to repatriate Germans immediately.
Another of Germany’s big tour operators, DER, said it was talking to guests, under 50 of whom were in the resort, about bringing them back home early but that it was not planning an evacuation.
For Germans the resorts of Hurghada and Marsa Alam on Egypt’s mainland Red Sea coast, which are not affected by the latest travel advice, are more popular destinations. TUI Germany said 90 percent of its customers in Egypt were in Hurghada.
France and Britain, two other major sources of tourists for Egypt, advise against travel to the peninsula but have so far exempted Sharm el-Sheikh.
The German tour operators said guests with travel booked over the next few weeks to Sharm el-Sheikh would be offered the chance to switch bookings to other destinations or cancel their trip entirely.
TUI Germany, Thomas Cook Germany and DER said the rebooking or cancellation offer was valid until March 14, while Alltours said those with travel booked until the end of March could alter their plans for free.