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Hundreds of Estonians drawn to dangerous Egypt

Eile Egiptusesse suundunud Erko (paremalt), Kristiina ja Eivo arvasid, et ohuhoiatus on liialdus. PHOTO: Jaanus Lensment

On Wednesday, tour operator GoAdventure confirmed it is cancelling trips to Egypt starting April 6th.  Before deadline, the company will still manage to send a planeload of tourists into the danger zone.

Looks like lots of Estonian tourists don’t take the urgent plea by foreign ministry – to avoid Egypt – too seriously. GoAdventure is the only tour operator sending tourists to Egypt. Yesterday, 177 people flew off towards Sharm el Sheikh. On Saturday, April 5th, the same amount is dispatched to Hurghada.

Marina Moks, CEO of the company, confirmed that the desire to travel is so great as to have people stand in line for the last flight on April 5th.  «When one opts out, another pops up,» explained Ms Moks. According to her, the travellers are rather angry at tour operators who brought their clients back from Egyptian resorts and were quick to cancel flights. «The greater panic is among those who will not get to the Red Sea!» claimed Ms Moks.

Last minute ticket

As assured by Erko, Kristiina and Eivo who flew to Sharm el Sheikh yesterday, they snapped up the last minute tickets the day before and were ready to pay a little extra for the trip. «We have friends on location and it’s as peaceful as two years ago,» said Erko. «The locals do not advise to go to Cairo or Luxor; but otherwise one can’t say that there’s anything dangerous going on there,» added Kristiina.

Eivo has even taken his daughter along to Egypt. He is convinced the warning is one great exaggeration.

«The disturbances are far from there. It’s the same when Tallinn had riots but in Tartu life was bed of roses,» said Signe, headed for Sharm el Sheikh yesterday, for the first time. «Like they used to say: death here, or in Siberia! If that be our destiny, so be it. We go and enjoy!» she added.

Anneli, flying to Egypt with a partner, still said the trip made her anxious and she was a bit afraid. «I hope I’m going to an area sufficiently guarded and will not be adventuring around the country. For me , this was a last minute decision, but I need the warmth for my health,» said Anneli, for whom the replacement trip to Cyprus didn’t fit time-wise.

«We are not under the law to stop the travels, but as our Consumer Protection Board is panicking slightly so we decided that starting April 6th we will not be flying to Egypt any more,» explained Ms Moks, the GoAdventure chief. According to the agency, it’s not as bad in the resorts as the foreign ministry claims. «We have our workers on location, and we are checking the situation,» she said.

The April 6th deadline was set as by that time they managed to prepare replacement trip to Northern Cyprus. «We did not want to panic the clients who were pleading with us anyway to please don’t cancel [the trip],» added Ms Moks. The last group is returning to Estonia on April 12th.

Might get bad

Foreign minister Urmas Paet assured Postimees that the decision to raise Egyptian danger assessment was thoroughly calculated. «We have been informed that the situation in Egypt, especially around the Red Sea and the Sinai Peninsula has become dangerous. What is happening is that Islamic radicals are intensifying their fight against current government in Egypt,» said Mr Paet. According to him, it may be assumed that Egyptian security forces are managing with attacks in resorts, and up to now several bomb attacks have been prevented in resorts. Even so, it is definitely dangerous for tourists to move outside the resorts.

«Therefore, all the emotional statements on how it’s all warm and peaceful, don’t hold water. Sadly, the situation at the moment is such that terror threat is clearly increased in the resorts,» noted Mr Paet, admitting that travellers cannot be kept from going. All he can hope is that sound mind wins out.

In addition to Estonia, 22 more EU member states – out of the total 28 – have issued the same level travel warning.