UNWTO AND WTTC DEMAND UK GOVERNMENT LIFTS BAN ON FLIGHTS TO SHARM EL SHEIKH
(Posted 28th November 2016)
In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, and Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, UNWTO, stressed the importance of resuming operations to the Egyptian coastal resort as the current travel advisory is having devastating effects on the country’s economy and social stability. The ban has been in place since a Metrojet airline flying from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in the Sinai Desert in October 2015.
They said: ‘Travel & Tourism is vital to Egypt’s economy and social peace, contributing 11% of the country’s GDP and 2.6 million in jobs in 2015. The reduction of visitors has created huge employment losses. The country’s biggest concern is how the lack of employment opportunities, especially for young men and women, has instilled a desperate disposition and thus vulnerability to radicalisation or to fleeing on a refugee boat‘.
Egyptian authorities have taken significant measures to step up the level of security not only in the airport but in the surrounding area as well. These improvements now meet the safety standards as indicated by the UK Department for Transport. All other countries, including Germany and Russia, have allowed their airlines to start flying to Sharm el Sheikh again.
They concluded: ‘It is devastating to see the impact the current UK travel advisory has on Egypt and on the young workforce in particular. We call on the UK government to review the advisory and allow commercial aircraft to fly to Sharm el Sheikh and thereby help restore the country’s Travel & Tourism sector’s GDP and employment provision‘.
This reminds of the UK’s action against Kenya, at the time thought to be inspired not just by events but by political calculation as a form of punishment vis a vis the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, when the UK slapped a war like anti travel advisory on the Kenya coast, keeping thousands of British citizens away from the destination.
The decision cost tens of thousands of Kenyans their jobs at the time when the resorts they were employed at had to close down due to lack of business.
UNWTO and WTTC are therefore right to demand that the restrictions against air traffic into Egypt are lifted unconditionally and immediately.