Britons urged to stay in hotels in Egyptian resort

LONDON - Britain on Friday urged tourists visiting the Red Sea resort of Hurghada to stay in their hotels following a warning by Egyptian police in the wake of violent clashes this week.

Hurghada and other resorts such as Sharm el-Sheikh are excluded from the Foreign Office's advice against all but essential travel to Egypt, as they are deemed far removed from the political unrest centred around Cairo.

But London issued the new warning after a man was killed in Hurghada on Wednesday as violence swept the country following a crackdown on protests by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Although the violence in Hurghada was away from the tourist districts, the Foreign Office said that "Hurghada police advised tourists to remain in hotel grounds. We advise you to follow their advice".

"You are strongly advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings," it said in a statement.

"If you become aware of any nearby protests, leave the area immediately. Do not attempt to cross road blocks erected by the security forces or protestors." British travel association ABTA estimates there are about 40,000 British holidaymakers currently in the Red Sea resorts.

"The latest figures show bookings to Egypt, in particular to the Red Sea resorts, to be up compared to this time last year, although they are still lower than three years ago, before the Arab Spring," a spokesman said.

Tour operators Thomson and First Choice, which have almost 12,000 British tourists in Egypt, said Sharm el-Sheikh remained unaffected by the violence.

An overnight curfew imposed overnight Wednesday has now been lifted at the resort, it said.

A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook, another major British operator in the region, said it had cancelled excursions from the Red Sea resorts to Cairo, Luxor, Moses Mountain and St Catherine's monastery.

But she added: "Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada are fully operational and holidaymakers are continuing to enjoy these popular resorts." Meanwhile British Airways said it had altered its flight schedule to take account of the night curfews in Cairo and several other provinces imposed on Wednesday.

"We are keeping the situation in Egypt under constant review. As a result of the night curfew in Cairo we have altered our flying schedule to avoid the late evenings," a spokeswoman said.