German tour operators split over restarting Egypt trips

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Some major tour operators in Germany, one of the world's biggest spenders on foreign holidays, will shortly resume flying tourists to Egypt, although others said they would wait for government advice on safety to change.

Many travel firms halted trips to the country after violence broke out in July and August and governments advised holidaymakers to stay away.

Accounting for around 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in Egypt, tourism is vital to the country's economy.

Thomas Cook Germany and DER Touristik, two of the country's largest tour operators, said this week the situation was calm in the Red Sea resorts popular with sun-seekers and divers and that trips would restart from September 30.

Other major firms TUI Germany, part of Europe's largest tour operator TUI Travel, and Alltours said on Friday they would not be flying tourists to Egypt until at least the middle of next month.

They said they were sticking to advice from the German foreign ministry, which has not changed and advises against travel to the resorts.

TUI said all trips were canceled until at least October 15 and they would only restart once the government advice altered.

"We are watching the situation very closely and of course have an interest in the country returning to normal as soon as possible, especially for our Egyptian partners," it said in a statement.

Egypt is particularly popular with travelers from Russia, Britain and Germany seeking sunshine during the European winter. Around 1.2 million Germans go to Egypt each year and it is among the top 10 destinations for the tour operators.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; editing by David Evans)

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