TOURISM

Fast action by tour organisers keeps Hong Kong tourists out of Egypt danger zone

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 August, 2013, 5:01am

Hong Kong's travel agents acted weeks before their counterparts around the world, suspending all organised group tours to Egypt at the beginning of last month.

As the situation in Cairo deteriorated sharply last week, governments around the world advised visitors to stay in their hotels and tour operators began cancelling trips to the crisis-hit country.

In Hong Kong, the black travel alert was raised by the government last week, but the head of the travel industry said yesterday that travel agents had stopped promoting tours to Egypt at the beginning of July.

Former Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi was deposed by the military on July 3 after mass protests.

All local travel agent groups had a dialogue with their counterparts in Egypt, decided then that the situation was already critical and cancelled all tours. "The travel agents took this decision and it has proved to be a very wise one," said Travel Industry Council executive director Joseph Tung Yao-chung.

"The situation has obviously escalated in recent weeks so they have definitely saved a lot of Hong Kong tourists unnecessary worry. There are absolutely no tour groups from Hong Kong in Egypt now."

Tung said that the decision was not a hard one to make as group tours to Egypt from Hong Kong had dropped significantly in the past year, because of the problems in the country, even now in the summer peak season.

"Over the summer period we'd normally have 30 groups of 15-20 people going there, but from the start of July it had dropped to 10 groups," Tung said.

Hong Kong residents in Egypt who need assistance can call the 24-hour Assistance to Hong Kong Residents hotline at +852 1868 or contact the Chinese embassy in Egypt on the 24-hour duty phone: +20 227380466 or +20 227363556.