Spain and Portugal boom as travellers avoid Egypt

Spain and Portugal are seeing a resurgence as customers seek an alternative to Egypt, where political violence continued into a third week.

Leisure carrier Jet2.com pulled its summer programme to Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada this week as protesters stepped up their efforts to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice remained unchanged, with guidance against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.

Agents said Jet2.com’s switching of flights to Spain and Portugal would be a welcome boost for those destinations. The Balearics and the Canaries were the top two destinations for the week to February 5.

Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association president Brian Potter said: “Egypt will take longer to settle down than Tunisia. Spain and Portugal need the extra tourism as numbers there have fallen. There is a general trend emerging of people going back to these ‘traditional’ destinations.”

Denise Marsden, sales manager of Manchester-based agency Miss Ellies Travel, agreed: “If the trouble carries on, it will have a knock-on effect on Egypt. However, it might give the Canaries a chance to come back as a lot of customers have switched to there.”

Agents said Jet2.com’s decision to cancel its Egypt programme was a shrewd move.

Sunshine.co.uk managing director Chris Brown said: “This is a clever move by Jet2.com. Why fly with empy seats and lose money?

“Other airlines have not pulled flights, which means people can’t make a decision, and that’s frustrating for customers.”

Fears are growing that the political violence will have a long-term impact on tourism to Egypt.

Brown said: “It’s unlikely to recover before the end of 2012 to early 2013.”

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