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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Egypt sees increase in tourist bookings: Thomas Cook

Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 Mar 2017
Tourists in Sharm
File Photo: Tourists build a sand pyramid at a closed beach in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (Photo: Reuters)
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UK tour company Thomas Cook announced on Tuesday that it is seeing a rise in bookings by holidaymakers looking to visit Egypt and Turkey for the summer season.

"After a slow start to the season and a tough year in 2016, we're seeing early signs that customers are beginning to go back to Turkey and Egypt," company CEO Peter Fankhauser said in statements reported by Reuters.

The increased bookings bode well for Egypt, which has suffered sharp drops in tourism in recent years, particularly with travel bans imposed by the UK and Russia following the 2015 crash of a Russian passenger flight in Sinai.

In March, Thomas Cook announced that a number of flights are planned to travel in November 2017 from the UK to Egypt's South Sinai resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh. However, the company says that if the British flight ban is not lifted by May, tickets will be refunded.

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has a travel warning in place against British citizens traveling to Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport.

In November 2015, the UK suspended flights to the resort over security concerns after the Russian Metrojet airliner crashed in Sinai in October of that year, killing all 224 mostly Russian passengers.

The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for downing the flight, though Egyptian investigators have not yet determined the cause of the crash.

The British company still provides vacations for British holidaymakers to the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada.

Egyptian tourism, a pillar of the country's economy and a key source of foreign currency, has taken a heavy blow since the Russian airliner crash.

Sharm El-Sheikh's economy is believed to have suffered the most, especially given Moscow's ongoing flight ban.

Cairo has undertaken several measures to improve airport security following many visits by Russian aviation experts as part of a series of steps to pave the way for resuming flights between the two countries.

Cairo and Moscow are set to sign an aviation safety protocol next Summer to monitor the adoption of airport safety measures.

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