Managing Director, Thomas Cook UK & Ireland
Over the last few months, people have regularly asked me when Thomas Cook hopes to resume trips to Sharm el Sheikh from the UK. The decision ultimately rests with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which issues expert security advice for UK travellers. Since October 2015 it has advised against flying to Sharm el Sheikh airport and we have had no indication that this is likely to change in the near future. Therefore we have sadly decided we won’t be able to offer any trips from the UK to Sharm next summer. We will continue to offer holidays to the popular and growing resort town of Hurghada on the Red Sea Riviera in Egypt.
As you can imagine, we plan our summer programme many months in advance. We need to make decisions about how many rooms we want and work closely with the hoteliers to ensure our customers have the best time and the highest quality experience. Having left it as long as possible, we have decided that even if the advice were to change in the next few months, we wouldn’t be able to offer a full programme to the resort next summer. We had made a small number of packages and flights available on our website – highlighting the travel advice - and those customers will be offered alternative holidays including trips to Hurghada.
The last two years have been very difficult for tourism especially to North Africa and we have worked hard to offer customers holidays in alternative destinations. For next summer, we are already seeing strong demand for the Canaries, Greece and Croatia, while further afield the Dominican Republic, Cuba and USA all look to be popular long-haul holiday destinations for 2017. Wherever our customers go, we are investing heavily to make sure they have the very best experience including extending our portfolio of own-brand hotels. We are planning a number of new own-brand hotel openings in Spain, Greece, Croatia and Italy for Summer 2017 and, following the success of Casa Cook Rhodes, the second Casa Cook will open on the Greek island of Kos in July.
Regardless, this is sad news for our friends and partners in Sharm with whom we have worked with for many years. It is a fantastic destination and as soon as the advice changes and we can build it into our holiday programme, we look forward to flying customers from the UK to Sharm again so they can enjoy all the resort has to offer.