Our Group Head of Customer Welfare Carol MacKenzie gives her views on travel to Egypt:
Thomas Cook has long experience in Egypt. We first took holidaymakers there in 1859, on a guided tour which included Palestine. Less than twenty years later we launched a fleet of steamers to cruise the Nile and by 1881 we were advertising a twenty-one day cruise from Cairo to Aswan and back for the price of £50.
Times have clearly changed, but Egypt remains a very popular destination for holidaymakers looking for great beaches and near-guaranteed blue skies all year round.
Nonetheless, given some of the negative news about Egypt in recent years, we understand if you question whether it's the right destination for you and your family.
North Africa as a region has suffered from terrorist incidents in recent years and there are a number of regions in Egypt itself where the UK Foreign Office (FCO) advises against travel. Like the UK, the overall threat from terrorism in Egypt is assessed as 'high'. The resort areas where we offer holidays have remained largely undisturbed, though are not immune to incidents - as we saw in July this year when two tourists were killed in a knife attack on the beach in Hurghada.
Following the crash of a Metrojet flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg in 2015, the FCO advised against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh airport. This ban does not extend to the resort area. However, as long as the flight ban remains in place, the resort is, in effect, closed for British tourists. When 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.
The resort town of Hurghada on the Red Sea Riviera, on the other hand, is growing in popularity, and we've put more flights on for winter and summer 2017 to keep up with demand. We have also now extended our winter programme to this area by offering flights and holidays to the resort town of Marsa Alam, further down the Red Sea coastline. You can see why - local people are friendly and welcoming, and the country offers some great value options for both winter and summer sun. With great weather all year round, plus miles of sandy beaches and good access to water sports like sailing and diving, the Red Sea coast offers a classic beach holiday for great prices.
While we are guided by the FCO advice, we are also flexible when unexpected events can give our customers reason to rethink their holiday plans. Time on holiday should be carefree, relaxing and the best weeks of the year - and it's our job to make that happen for our customers.
Taking your loved ones anywhere is a serious decision and ultimately of course it’s up to you where you choose to go on holiday. You should always consult FCO travel advice before making your decision. Whichever Thomas Cook holiday you choose, you can always be assured that your safety is our first priority.