Egypt killings: Firms cancel holidays

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The Independent Online
Tour operators gave a mixed response yesterday when asked how hard the terrorist attack in Luxor, which claimed the lives of 58 foreign visitors, would hit Egypt's tourist trade. Many flights have been cancelled over the next few days, but the impact in the long term is less clear.

British companies are offering clients due to travel to Egypt refunds or alternative holidays.

Egypt has become an increasingly popular destination among Britons, with 350,000 travelling there last year. This year's tourist numbers had been buoyant, reaching 3.5 million - up from 3.2 million. However, three major British tour operators have cancelled all holiday flights there over the next three days.

If the tourist figures dip in the longer term, the loss of revenue will hit hard. Egypt's tourist industry has an annual turnover of more than pounds 2bn, and up to 10 million people depend on it for their livelihood.

Thomas Cook Holidays, Britain's largest tour operator, said it did not anticipate a huge decline in tourist interest in Egypt. Only two of its 140 clients currently in Egypt have decided to come home and only 50 of 300 due to travel there before the end of the year cancelled or transferred. The company is accepting cancellations and transfers without charge for all departures to Egypt until the end of the year.

Britain and the United States have issued emergency advice urging visitors to avoid areas along the Nile in upper Egypt, as has Japan. France's National Travel Agents' Union (SNAV) recommended members to suspend sales of tours to Egypt "until further notice".