UNWTO and WTTC demands May lifts Sharm ban

UNWTO and WTTC demands May lifts Sharm ban

Two global tourism bodies have called on prime minister Theresa May to lift the year-long ban on UK airlines flying to Sharm el Sheikh.

The demand from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) coincided with the UK Ambassador to Jordan describing security and aviation arrangements at the Red Sea resort’s airport as still not being adequate enough to allow flights to resume.

The flight ban has been in place since a Russian Metrojet aircraft flying from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in the Sinai Desert killing all on board in October 2015. 

WTTC president and CEO David Scowsill and UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai stressed in a letter to May the importance of resuming operations to the Egyptian coastal resort.

They argued that the current Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advisory is having devastating effects on the country’s economy and social stability.

They said: “Travel and 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 stepped up 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, the two tourism bodies claim.

Other countries, including Germany and Russia, have allowed their airlines to start flying to Sharm el Sheikh again.

The letter concludes: “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 and tourism sector’s GDP and employment provision.”

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