British tourists in Egypt enjoy despite ongoing protests

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

LONDON - Despite the political turmoil in Egypt, British holidaymakers seem to have a gala time in that country. Tourists in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh were seen sunbathing and relaxing even as protests against the government of President Hosni Mubarak continued.

On Tuesday, thousands of protestors took to the streets in Cairo demanding the expulsion of President Mubarak, who ruled the country for nearly three decades. Over 100 people have been killed since the protests began about a week ago.

Around 30,000 British tourists are currently thought to be on holiday in Egypt. Some hotels in Sharm el Sheikh have put up barricades for protection against the potential spread of violent protests in the country, Daily Mail reported.

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said the situation in the area was “genuinely calm” although hotels had taken precautions because some guests were “slightly alarmed”.

Taking in the winter sun, plucky British tourists said they would stay where they were, saying they were perfectly safe.

Louise Radford, 23, told the Daily Mail: “It seems that everyone is overreacting.

“The US has told its citizens to leave the country and the Scandinavians have been told to go home tomorrow, but, really, there is nothing to worry about here.”

Barnes, 22, a human resources manager, added: “We were aware there were problems in Egypt before we left, but, really, it has not affected us at all. We have been sunbathing, swimming and generally relaxing.”

The aura of calm comes as it emerged that up to two million people could take to the streets Tuesday as demands for dictator Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for nearly three decades, to leave office intensify.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian army made the crucial announcement that it will not use force against protesters.

In a statement carried by Egyptian media, it said: “To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people… have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people.”

Tens of thousands of people in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez Monday night defied a curfew ahead of the “Million-man march” Tuesday.

But despite the chaos, tour operators were still offering cut-price holidays to Egypt, according to the Mail.

A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: “We continue to monitor the situation in Egypt and we are in close contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

The cut-price holiday bonanza came as many airlines cancelled their flights to areas affected by the riots.

Meanwhile, British ministers were coming under pressure to evacuate Britons. Other countries, including the US, have begun to fly out their citizens.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer told the London Evening Standard there was “no alternative” but to evacuate. There have been chaotic scenes at Cairo Airport as people tried to escape.

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