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British travellers heading for Egypt’s Red Sea resorts expressed anger that other countries, including Germany and Russia, had already warned against travel to the region, while they were left with little option but to fly out or lose their money.
Travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) remained unchanged last night, with about 40,000 Britons currently on holiday in Egypt.
Cairo and the northern Sinai remain off-limits and only essential travel is advised to most of the rest of the country.
However, travellers are advised that “enhanced security” is in place at the Red Sea resorts including Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada and that it is still safe to travel there.
Pam Clarke, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, said: “I am angry with Thomas Cook as my son Liam and his fiancee Kayleigh are due to fly to Hurghada on September 10 and for the last three weeks have been trying to change destination due to the unrest in Egypt.
“They have been fobbed off by Thomas Cook continually, they have tried to change to another destination and even offered to pay more money than the almost £2,000 they have paid for their holiday but Thomas Cook say ‘Don’t panic we are monitoring the situation’.
“They are scared to go to Hurghada. They have friends who live in Sharm and they are saying don’t come to Egypt it is not safe.”
Vicky Williams, 25, a dental nurse from the Wirral, paid £1,400 for a week in the Sharm Hilton Waterfalls hotel with boyfriend Mike Richards, 29, and are due to fly in three weeks’ time, also with Thomas Cook.
“We wanted to change our holiday because of the situation and got told it would cost £768 in administrative charges to do so. It’s pathetic,” she said.
“I don’t want to go there with the situation as it is. I’m very concerned the Foreign Office are giving different advice to British tourists compared to other countries and it leaves us in a very difficult position.”
One family said that although the epicentre of last week’s massacre was many hours’ drive from their Red Sea resort, they were dreading the holiday before it had even begun.
Rose Rusk, from Acton, west London, said she was leaving Gatwick airport with a heavy heart yesterday (SAT) for a week’s holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh with husband Dean, daughter Kerry, 19, and son Aaron, 14.
“It was supposed to be a nice holiday for all the family,” said Mrs Rusk, 49. “We don’t often get to go away together and to be honest I’d rather not be going today. It’s terrible dreading a holiday before you’ve even boarded the flight.”
Mr Rusk, 51, said: “We booked it six months ago and were really looking forward to it. We’ve been checking the Foreign Office website every day to see what the advice is and it hasn’t changed, which means we can’t get our money back.
“We feel a bit trapped really as we don’t have a choice about it.”
Kate Delmi, 43, who was also heading for Sharm, said that amid packing the sunscreen and the beach towels she had been forced to give her young family a gentle briefing on the nature of civil war.
“It’s terribly sad they have to see Egypt for the first time this way,” said Mrs Delmi, from west London. “I’m visiting with my young children and I’ve had to explain to them what’s going on to prepare them in case anything happens.”
“We’ll be sticking to the resort and won’t be venturing out.”
She added: “I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of us enjoying ourselves when there’s a civil war brewing elsewhere in the country.
“Lots of the people who work in the resorts are actually from Cairo and so many of them will have family there affected by the violence.”
But at Gatwick airport Gary Kelly, 53, who was heading to Sharm for a fortnight with his family, was sanguine about the risks.
“The chance of anything happening is so remote. It’s miles away in any case so it’s like being in Eastbourne when there’s fighting in the south of France, said the engineer from Kent.
“We won’t be taking unnecessary risks and won’t be going out at night but it doesn’t have to ruin our holiday.”
Mr Kelly, who was travelling with wife Paula Sabbald, 42, and daughters Kirsti, 17, Cara, 16, and Kacey, seven, added: “We’ve tried not to think about it since it started as there’s no use worrying before you get there.”
Michael, 30, and Sarah Franklyn, 31, were flying away for two weeks on their honeymoon.
Mrs Franklyn, an accountant from Maidenhead, said: “We were visiting Egypt during the early days of the revolution and now we’re going again during the worst time possible. I can’t believe it has happened again.
“We expected after Germany and other country’s decisions to change the travel advice that the UK would too. I had prepared to cancel the holiday so to be here today was unexpected.
“Usually we’re the first to cancel things for health and safety reasons. I hope the Foreign Office isn’t wrong this time. I don’t want to go through it again.”
Karl Hamlyn, 22, who is taking time off after his studies and lives in Buckinghamshire, was going on holiday for two weeks with his girlfriend Stacey Robinson, 23, a teacher from north Yorkshire.
“I’m not worried at all, I know what it’s like in Sharm and it’s always peaceful in the resorts. I know other people are concerned but it’s a completely different world up there and as far away from the trouble as it could possibly be,” he said.
Simon Osgerby, 49, a bus driver, wife Tracey, 49, a funeral director, and daughters Emily, 18, and Hannah, 13, from Haywards Heath, are going on an all-inclusive holiday to the region.
Mr Osgerby said: “We never thought about cancelling. We booked in April and you know when you book holidays to countries like Egypt that these things can happen. I think the Foreign Office have thought about it and not just had a knee- jerk response.”
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said normal terms and conditions apply on bookings while the Foreign Office advice remains the same, meaning fees will be payable if a booking is cancelled or altered.
“Thomas Cook and the British government would never choose to send the public somewhere that was deemed dangerous,” he said.
“As long as the FCO advice says it’s safe to travel then normal booking conditions apply.”