Sharm el Sheikh may remain off-sale in the UK, but there are plenty of other options for sunseekers around the rest of the Red Sea. Rob Gill reports.
Most of the talk about the Red Sea in the past couple of years has revolved around the advice by the Foreign Office not to use Sharm el Sheikh airport due to security concerns.
Despite continued appeals from the Egyptian authorities and organisations such as World Travel & Tourism Council and World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the FCO continues to advise “against all but essential travel by air” to Sharm.
This advice has been in place since November 2015 in the aftermath of the suspected bombing of a Russian charter flight from Sharm.
Tourism minister Yehia Rashed insisted that Sharm’s airport was now equipped with “state of the art” security technology when he visited WTM London in November.
The resort was boosted last month when four Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway – changed their advice against flying to Sharm. Flights from Germany, Italy and Belgium to Sharm resumed late last year.
But the continued FCO advice against using Sharm airport has forced major operators such as Thomas Cook and Thomson to reluctantly cancel all UK flights to the resort for summer 2017.
“It is a fantastic destination and as soon as the advice changes and we can build it into our holiday programme, we look forward to flying customers from the UK to Sharm again,” says Chris Mottershead, Thomas Cook’s UK and
Ireland managing director. Some specialist operators to the Red Sea are optimistic that the FCO will soon change its advice on Sharm’s airport – Discover Egypt has even decided to include Sharm as a twin-centre option in its new brochure in anticipation that Britons will soon be able to fly to the resort.