The British government finally lifted a four-year travel restriction to the Egyptian resort town Sharm El Sheikh on Tuesday. British airlines were advised against traveling to the Red Sea resort in 2015 due to the questionable security measures used at the town's airport. A bomb was suspected to have been smuggled onto a Russian passenger plane, effectively killing all 224 passengers and crew on board the flight in October 2015.
With the ever-increasing improvement of airport security procedures, along with the "close co-operation between the UK and Egypt on aviation security," the British government has withdrawn all travel restrictions to the popular holiday destination.
British travel company TUI was one of the first to embrace the lift on the travel ban, expecting to reintroduce flights to Sharm El Sheikh by summer 2020.
"Sharm el-Sheikh has been a very popular destination for UK holidaymakers in the past, before the restrictions were in place. The news is also positive for the local economy in this region of Egypt that is reliant on the benefits travel and tourism bring," said a spokesperson for the travel association ABTA.
"We look forward to services to Sharm El-Sheikh resuming, and lifting the restriction is the first step in that process," the secretary of the UK Department of Transport, Grant Shapps, stated.
"The safety and security of British nationals remains our top priority and this decision follows close co-operation between our aviation security experts and their Egyptian counterparts, and improvements in security procedures at the airport. We will now work closely with airlines who wish to resume flights to and from the airport," Shapps added.
Egyptian Tourism Minister Rania Al-Mashat believes that with the strengthened security systems put into place at both airports and tourist areas, the decision taken by the British government is proof of its trust in the security and safety afforded by Egyptian authorities. She also trusts that this will have a positive impact on the increase of tourist traffic coming from the British market to Sharm El Sheikh and other Egyptian tourist destinations.
The country's greatest nose dive in tourist activity was during the 2011 Arab Spring when the tourism sector witnessed a 66 percent drop, barely a year after reaching an all-time high of 14.73 million tourists in 2010. However, Egypt's tourism seems to be pulling out of its eight-year slump with a recorded 11.35 million tourists in 2018, and a predicted 11.7 million by the end of 2019.