Frustration in Tunis and Cairo

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Cart driver in Tunisia waving

This man would like to wave to British tourists returning to Tunisia…

Both the Egyptians and Tunisians have said that their countries are open for business as soon as the British Government says it is fine to travel there.

But how much longer will it be before the go-ahead is given?

In the late summer there were rumours that the all-clear would be given to Tunisia and in October it looked as though visits would be allowed to Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. Neither happened so is it any wonder that there is being to be frustration creeping into the voices of the tourism professionals in both countries?

At the World Travel Market, Sami Tounsi from the Tunisian National Tourism Office said that the infrastructure is fully intact and we will be ready to open the very next day noting that everybody ( I take this to mean, Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark which have also banned their nationals from travelling there) is watching the UK. He said even if the UK didn’t lift the ban completely, tourism officials hoped it would relax it in key resorts, like Djerba, Hammamet and Port El Kantaoui. France, Germany and Spain have already removed the ban so why not the UK?

The UK government suggests that the time is not right. The least it might do is tell us all what still needs to be done to have the ban lifted.

map of the Sinai

…and Egyptians would welcome Britons back to Sharm

Egypt’s Minister for Tourism Yehia Rashed –an hotelier and therefore one of the few ministers in the world who understands tourism – is confident the ban will be lifted soon. At least with Egypt the ban only affects Sharm, not the whole country. Rashed said, at the Egyptian press conference at WTM, “We had hoped the decision would be taken yesterday, but we will leave the British Government to take their time.”

He said it was in the interests of both the Egyptian people and UK travel companies to get the destination fully open for business again. Sharm el Sheikh attracted 700,000 British visitors in 2015.

Now that archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed what they describe as a city close to the temple of Seti near Luxor, the tourist authority will be hoping that entices many of us back to Egypt.

This week the World Travel & Tourism Council and the World Tourism Organisation write a joint letter to Theresa May  warnong that unless UK flights resumed, there was a risk local Egyptians would become ‘radicalised’ due to the growing financial crisis in the Red Sea resort.

But even if the bans were lifted today, both countries would be hard pressed to entice large numbers of visitors without substantial support from the likes of Thomson, Thomas Cook, Jet 2 and Monarch and their plans for winter and summer 2017 are difficult to alter at this late stage.

Given that so many tourism ministers and travel’s “good and great” were in London, you might have thought an announcement would have been made about both countries. That it didn’t suggests either the UK government is dithering or there is something fundamental that is causing them concern.

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