CAA sends tourists home after Thomas Cook collapse, Egypt feels the pinch

The tourism sector in Egypt was affected after Hossam El-Shaer, chairman of the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association (ETAA) and Thomas Cook’s operator in Egypt, announced that 25,000 reservations in Egypt, booked up to April 2020, had been cancelled. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2019

CAA sends tourists home after Thomas Cook collapse, Egypt feels the pinch

  • Around 100,000 UK-based tourists used to visit Egypt through the company each year
  • Official says the company’s bankruptcy was bad news for the entire tourism sector

LONDON: The UK branch of Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy has sent shockwaves throughout the global tourism industry.

Sunday’s announcement came after the company’s top officials failed to reach a settlement with lenders to continue operating. Thomas Cook needed £200 million up front ($250 million) and an additional package of £900 million to pay off liabilities.

The tourism sector in Egypt was affected after Hossam El-Shaer, chairman of the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association (ETAA) and Thomas Cook’s operator in Egypt, announced that 25,000 reservations in Egypt, booked up to April 2020, had been cancelled. El-Shaer said around 100,000 UK-based tourists used to visit Egypt through the company every year.

He added that there were around 1,600 Thomas Cook customers in Egypt at the resort of Hurghada, and that they would return to their countries via consultation with and assistance from the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 

Though Thomas Cook in the UK will cease trading, the franchise in other countries, including Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Poland, and in Scandinavia, is operating normally.

El-Shaer added that after Thomas Cook collapsed, an agreement was reached with the CAA to regulate customer check-outs and the transfer of tourists from Egypt to their home countries according to their departure dates. The company addressed Egyptian hotels, saying it would guarantee all liabilities provided no money was taken from tourists.

Sayed El-Gabry, a Thomas Cook operator in Egypt, said the company’s bankruptcy was an “unfortunate global shock since it is a big company that has strong connections with us, and we worked together for a long time.”

El-Gabry said the company’s bankruptcy was bad news for the entire tourism sector: “The world has lost a huge British economic entity.”


Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

Israeli border policemen take up position during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators at a protest against Trump's decision on Jerusalem, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank March 9, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 January 2020

Suspected arson at East Jerusalem mosque

  • The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property

JERUSALEM: Israeli police launched a manhunt on Friday after an apparent arson attack, accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti, at a mosque in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building,” a police statement said.
“A wide-scale search is taking place in Jerusalem,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “We believe that the incident took place overnight. We are searching for suspects.”
The spokesman would not say if police viewed it as a hate crime. The graffiti, on a wall in the mosque compound and viewed by an AFP journalist, contained the name Kumi Ori, a small settlement outpost in the north of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Times of Israel newspaper said on Friday that the wildcat outpost “is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens.”
“Earlier this month security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in the outpost,” it reported.
All settlements on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law, but Israel distinguishes between those it has approved and those it has not.
The paper said: “A number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and (Israeli) security forces.”
Police said that nobody was injured in the mosque incident.
The attack had the appearance of a “price tag” attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes that generally target Palestinian or Arab Israeli property in revenge for nationalistic attacks against Israelis or Israeli government moves against unauthorized outposts like Kumi Ori.
“This is price tag,” Israeli Arab lawmaker Osama Saadi told AFP at the scene.
“The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burned the place and they burnt a Qur’an,” said Saadi, who lives in the area.
Ismail Awwad, the local mayor, said he called the police after he found apparent evidence of arson, pointing to an empty can he said had contained petrol or some other accelerant and scorch marks in the burned room.
“The fire in the mosque burned in many straight lines which is a sign that somebody poured inflammable material,” he said.
There was damage to an interior prayer room but the building’s structure was unharmed.
In December, more than 160 cars were vandalized in the Shuafaat neighborhood of east Jerusalem with anti-Arab slogans scrawled nearby.
The slogans read “Arabs=enemies,” “There is no room in the country for enemies” and “When Jews are stabbed we aren’t silent.”
The attackers were described by a local resident as “masked settlers.”