Britons advised to avoid Egypt travel

British holidaymakers are set to cancel their trips to Egypt after advice from the Foreign Office urging them to avoid all but essential travel to major parts of the country.

The travel advice comes amid the continuing conflict between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi, who is currently under house arrest. In the latest violence, several deaths were reported on Tuesday in Cairo, along with the death of a US citizen in Alexandria last week. ‘In view of the continued unrest in Egypt, the Foreign Office recommends against all but essential travel to Egypt except for resorts on the Red Sea in South Sinai and those resorts on the Egyptian mainland in Red Sea governorate,’ the Office said on its website.

Locations that are not covered by the advice include the popular holiday resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab on the Sinai peninsula; St Catherine’s Monastery – a World Heritage Site; roads between the five Red Sea locations; mainland resorts including Hurghada; and transfers between the resorts and the airports of Taba and Sharm El Sheikh.

The warning will result in the cancellation of thousands of package holidays and cruises to Egypt’s renowned destinations like Luxor and Giza. Holidaymakers will be entitled to a full refund or an alternative itinerary, but are not obligated to accept the latter. The move will be major setback to the country’s tourism industry, which employs one in eight Egyptians, as well as British tour operators.

Independent travellers will be able proceed with their trip, but may face difficulty obtaining adequate insurance. Airlines and hotels are not legally required to offer a refund, but most carriers may be willing to let fliers postpone their trips. If anyone is looking to cancel their trip to one of the Red Sea resorts, they will not be able to do so free of charge.

Meantime, Britons already in the area have been advised to ‘stay at or close to home or a place of safety, keep a low profile and pay close attention to their personal safety, particularly in the larger cities,’ the Office said, adding they should take ‘particular care to avoid crowds.’ While the Foreign Office has not recommended immediate departure from the country, it said that people ‘should consider whether they have a pressing need to remain.’

This is the second warning from the Foreign Office and more extensive than the one issued in January 2011 amid the uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. At the time, Britons were asked to avoid travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez, and the advisory was lifted a few months later.