Travel agencies speed up return of clients from Egypt

Cairo, Egypt, August 15, 2013, photo: CTK

A number of Czech travel agencies have sped up the return of clients from Egypt, cutting vacation stays short for fear that growing violence and unrest in Cairo and other cities could spread. Although life at seaside resorts in Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh has continued as normal, the majority of Czech tourists are to return this week. Not all understand why their vacation was cut short.

Cairo, Egypt, August 15, 2013, photo: CTK
On Monday, Czech TV reported that all was quiet in resorts in Hurghada, far from the violence and unrest in Cairo and surroundings. At the weekend, one hotel in Hurghada catering largely to Czechs and Slovaks remained 90 percent full; that is no longer the case as some travel agencies sped up the return of clients for fear the unrest in the capital could spread even to vacation areas. The largest, Exim Tours, opted not to take any chances but to bring its vacationers home as soon as possible, most of them by this Wednesday. Not all clients took the decision well: returning to Prague’s Václav Havel Airport on Monday at least one returning vacationer complained there was no reason for their stay to have been cut short:

“They basically ruined our vacation by telling us we had to come home. We were at Sharm el Sheikh where nothing bad was going on.”

Some competing travel agencies indicated – in their view – that Exim Tours had jumped the gun but even they will bring back clients within a few days, with the difference that clients already there are apparently being allowed to complete their package vacations. By contrast the head of Exim Tours, Ferid Nasr, made clear he felt he and his team took the right decision, evidently one of prudence rather than risk. He spoke to Czech TV:

Hurghada, Egypt
“I have lived here for more than 25 years but I am originally from Tunisia. Because I speak Arabic I think that I am able to monitor the situation better than most.”

Those who had their holiday cut short by Exim Tours and other agencies will no doubt expect and receive some form of compensation, either in the form of refunds or vouchers. The agencies themselves, consequently, can expect losses in the tens of millions. Other businesses, such as Travel Service operating charter flights to Egypt will take major hits. With vacationers cancelling resort vacations they booked for September now looking at more favourable destinations, the firm’s spokeswoman said the company estimated losses of up to half-a-billion crowns (the equivalent of around 26 million US dollars).