THE Co-operative Travel Trading Group has been slammed
for scrapping its conference in Egypt following three bomb blasts
in the Red Sea resort of Taba earlier this month.

The explosions, thought to be the work of Palestinian militants,
killed 30 people including two Britons and ripped through
Taba’s five-star Hilton hotel.

CTTG planned to take 1,000 delegates from its seven businesses
to Sharm el-Sheikh in early December, but cancelled due to a rise
in insurance cover for the conference.

But the decision, made by the group heads and not the tourism
divisions, has been heavily criticised for failing to support
Egypt’s tourism trade. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
has reviewed its travel advice, stating further attacks are likely,
but it has not advised against travel to the country.

Egyptian State Tourist Office UK director Khaled Ramy warned the
move could lead to price rises due to a perceived lack of support
from the UK travel trade. “This does not favour the UK market.
Countries that get better prices will be those that continue with
their tourism inflow.”

He added he was “disappointed” by the move, but bullishly
claimed the 1,000 rooms were re-sold “instantly”.

Longwood Holidays managing director Rafi Caplin said he was
“dismayed” by CTTG’s cancellation. “Sharm el-Sheikh is miles
away from Taba,” he said. “It sends out the wrong signals,
especially when CTTG staff will be selling the resort.”

CTTG chief financial officer Mike Greenacre defended the
cancellation, claiming it was the correct decision. “It’s a
difficult situation,” he said. “We appreciate the support of tour
operators but we had to make a decision and it would be easier for
people to cancel now than later.

“All our senior managers would have been in one location.”