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NEWS


Red Sea is first back with Sharm packages


Juliet Dennis


Package holidays to Sharm el-Sheikh were back on sale hours aſter the flight ban to the Egyptian resort was liſted. Te Foreign Office changed


its advice against all but essential travel by air to and from Sharm on Tuesday morning aſter four years – a move welcomed by the trade. Egypt specialist Red Sea


Chris Photi, White Hart Associates


a ‘nasty shock’ “In August and September,


they were collecting balances for departures in April and May 2020. “Te hits for operators have been


far higher than they budgeted.” A former Tomas Cook shop


manager confirmed to Travel Weekly that this had been a policy for three to four years every September when Cook filed its year-end accounts. Photi hit out at regulators and


trade associations for allowing Tomas Cook to “window dress” its balance sheet each year, and claimed Cook did not pay operators in September. “It wasn’t a secret, people knew this,” he said. As a result, pipeline money


protection through Abta was invalid because operators had extended credit to Cook. Photi said he knew of one


operator who complained to Abta, the CAA and Cook. “Te following


travelweekly.co.uk


day, Tomas Cook was no longer racking his holidays,” Photi said. “To have the privilege of doing


business with Cook, you had to give credit terms. For over 12 months, you could not get any kind of trade insurance against Cook retail. “You gave them credit, and then


Cook was supposed to, in line with their agency agreements with the tour operator, collect deposits and remit those to the operators.” Photi said Cook’s management


“deserved their grilling”. “Tis was not a well-managed


business in any way, shape or form. Te crying shame is the industry


turned a blind eye.” i Get Social, page 31


COLLAPSE


THOMAS COOK


Sharm el-Sheikh


Holidays became the first to put the resort back on sale on Tuesday aſternoon aſter sourcing weekly flights with Enter Air out of Gatwick from December 22. By 5.30pm, it had taken its first Sharm booking. Sharm has been off limits to UK


flights since a Russian-operated Metrojet flight was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 224 passengers, in October 2015. According to the Egyptian


State Tourist Office, British visitor numbers to Egypt hit a record high in 2010 with 1.3 million. Te advice change follows close


co-operation between the UK and Egypt to improve airport security. UK transport secretary Grant


Shapps said: “We will now work closely with airlines which wish to resume flights to the airport.” Operators immediately began


discussions to source airliſt for this winter. Tomas Cook, Tui and Red


Sea Holidays were the biggest UK operators prior to the flight ban but, with Cook’s failure, other operators are expected to step in. Tui said: “We will reintroduce


Sharm el-Sheikh, taking into account customer demand, and will now work closely with our hotel and airport partners.” EasyJet added it would look


at “any opportunities” for its airline and tour operation as regards Sharm el-Sheikh. Red Sea Holidays previously


sent 100,000 passengers a year to Sharm. Executive director Peter Kearns said he would urge hoteliers in Sharm “not to be greedy”. He said: “One of the great


selling points of Sharm is that it’s great value. I’m sure they will respond with atractive pricing.” Te Egyptian State Tourist


Office was confident UK visitor numbers would bounce back, and even exceed previous figures, given a recent rise in popularity for Hurghada and Marsa Alam. UK director Amr El-Ezabi


said: “It is great news. We now have three destinations for the British market.” Te tourist office is likely to


launch an advertising campaign to promote Sharm at the turn of the year, he added.


24 OCTOBER 2019


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