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Friday, 16 August 2013

EGYPT : Baroness Warsi resisting pleas to change FCO advice says Travel Expert Julian Bray

EGYPT LATEST:

Following a telephone call between the Foreign Secretary and the Egyptian Foreign Minister this evening (Saturday 17th August 2013), a Foreign Office spokesperson reports:

The Foreign Secretary and the Egyptian Foreign Minister spoke about the tragic violence and loss of life over recent days. The Foreign Secretary emphasised UK condemnation of all acts of violence, whether disproportionate use of force by the security forces or violent actions by some demonstrators.

 
They also discussed the recent attacks on places of worship and the Foreign Secretary stressed that attacks on mosques and churches were unacceptable and that places of worship must be protected.

 

The Foreign Secretary noted the Egyptian government’s stated commitment to the political roadmap published on 4 July, based on dialogue between all parties who accepted peaceful political processes. He underlined the need for urgent steps by all sides to end the violence and enable a return to dialogue. The Foreign Secretary also emphasised the EU’s collective determination to support a peaceful resolution of the situation.






SATURDAY 15:00hrs #Egypt Presidential Spokesman says:  "EGYPT facing War by forces of extremism." 

Foreign Journalists being arrested, tweets THE GUARDIAN. ..




Julian Bray Travel Expert (01733 345581) writes:



ABTA advice on travel and holidays in Egypt is flawed and dangerous. This is not the first time that a UK deskbound Association of British Travel Agents - ABTA spokesman has repeatedly and publicly advised trusting British holidaymakers to take their families including toddlers and children and put them at considerable personal risk into what is an active war zone controlled by a military junta. Saying the red sea resorts are by road eight hours away is nonsense, the military have helicopter gun ships (20 minutes away) and it only needs one rogue unit to shoot up the resort area...

Thomas Cook, Thomson and First Choice are flying thousands of passengers to their Red Sea destinations. The companies said they have cancelled excursions to Cairo, Luxor, Moses Mountain and St Catherine's Monastery. British Airways is still flying to Cairo but has adjusted its schedules to fly inside curfew times imposed by the Egyptian authorities. It is allowing passengers to rebook Cairo or change destinations.

UK travel organisation Abta estimates that around 40,000 Britons are currently in Egypt.

Thomson and First Choice have 11,769 British holidaymakers in Egypt, many of them in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh and the others in neighbouring Hurghada, Taba and Marsa Alam, while Thomas Cook has several thousand UK tourists in the Red Sea resorts.

We hear that Baroness Warsi is the one senior minister resisting any public change of FCO Travel Advice, we really do not need British casualties arriving back in the UK before the FCO follows Germanys lead.  

Substantial deaths within the country, hospitals unable to cope and wholesale disruption to food, utilities, transport and distribution systems, is being experienced, yet still  planeloads of ABTA clients are being offloaded on Egyptian soil. Some 40,000 British holidaymakers in the country. 

All this is likely to get far more dangerous for visiting tourists and holidaymakers duing the coming days, as has been demonstrated in other 'Arab Spring' countries who have experienced sudden and violent politicial change over the last few years. 

Until The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK,  puts an outright ban on travel for British citizens to the region, ABTA claim that no insurance refunds will be given. Baroness Warsi - in charge of the FCO 'advice' - will in particular, not wish to publicly lose face with elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, so if it is dissolved the problem does not arise...

The ABTA advice is however to my mind self serving and clearly places revenue protection for their travel agent members over and above the safety of their clients as holidaymakers.

The reality is ABTA holidaymakers could well have a 'joint and several legal claim' against credit card companies by invoking Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act on the basis that:

If you make a purchase for goods or services that fail to materialise, are faulty, are poor quality or are inadequate in some other way  the holidaymaker has the option to place a claim with the credit card provider right away.

The mere fact that a curfew has been imposed or police have imposed restrictions on movement ie advising holidaymakers for personal safety to stay within hotel grounds is sufficient to make a case that the product as advertised and purchased is inadequate, and that a full refund should be made.

  However, it is usually best to first approach the retailer or service provider directly (where possible) and ask for a refund.

If this proves fruitless you should then do the following:
  • Contact your credit card provider in writing explaining that you’d like to request a refund under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
  • Specify what the problem is (e.g. whether the product was faulty or has not arrived etc).
  • Include details such as the date you made the purchase, the retailer or service provider you made the purchase with, the products or services you paid for with credit card and their total value – it can be useful to include copies of any receipts or other paperwork you have relating to the transaction.
  • Explain that you have tried to resolve the issue with the retailer without success and include copies of any correspondence you have with them.
  • Specify a time limit within which you’d like the matter resolved.
This positioned is strengthened  as Germany has now advised its citizens not to travel to any part of Egypt, and the Kuoni company is offering alternative destinations, to its cleints 

ABTA Member Travel Agents know that industry insurance policies guaranteeing their refund revenues, will not kick in. But based on local reports anyone flying out from Friday 16th August to the resorts on the Red Sea in South Sinai, and those resorts on the Egyptian mainland in Red Sea governorate (including Hurghada) will face movement restrictions, armed civilian guards and night curfews (which have already been imposed). 

Local elements know that a death of a journalist or european holidaymaker creates huge publicity in the world media, and by implication will put pressure on the Egyptian military who have in all respects replaced the 'elected' Government and as such all holiday makers are now fully at risk.       


These are the FCO ministers who need to urgently think again about travel to Egypt... clearly a difficult one for Baroness Warsi:





https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/egypt

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai due to the significant increase in criminal activity and recent terrorist attacks on police and security forces that have resulted in deaths. See North Sinai

In view of continued unrest and the evolving political situation in Egypt, the FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Egypt except for resorts on the Red Sea in South Sinai and those resorts on the Egyptian mainland in Red Sea governorate (including Hurghada). 

Enhanced security measures are in place to protect the resort areas. There have been no violent protests in the South Sinai resorts during recent disturbances in Egypt.

General

You are strongly advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings. If you become aware of any nearby protests, leave the area immediately. Don’t attempt to cross road blocks erected by the security forces or protestors.

JULIAN BRAY, Media, Aviation, & Travel Expert. Broadcaster & Journalist NUJ EQUITY UK Tel: 01733 345581 (isdn link on application)
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