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We meet the British tourists STILL holidaying in Sharm El Sheikh - despite the ban

BRITISH holidaymakers are still travelling to Sharm El Sheikh – despite the UK flight ban. Tourist travel to Sharm was suspended in December 2015 after a Russian passenger plane was blown out of th…

BRITISH holidaymakers are still travelling to Sharm El Sheikh – despite the UK flight ban.

Tourist travel to Sharm was suspended in December 2015 after a Russian passenger plane was blown out of the sky, killing 224 people.

Getty - Contributor

UK tourist travel to Sharm was suspended in December 2015 after a Russian passenger plane was blown out of the sky - but some Brits continue to go

The Foreign Office has since warned against all but essential travel by air to the area, but while most Brits have been put off, die-hard fans continue to visit.

They avoid the ban by making a detour via Cairo or Istanbul airports, paying for special travel insurance that covers the holiday.

Here, they tell Sun Online Travel why they continue to visit – despite warnings from their own government…

“There is nothing to fear"

Charna Jones, 53, from Crick in Northamptonshire is returning to Sharm this summer after three years away

Charna Jones

Mark and Charna Jones are travelling to Sharm with their daughter this summer for the first time since the flight ban

Housewife Charna Jones, her Tesco warehouse worker husband Mark and their 18-year-old daughter travelled to Sharm El Sheikh in both 2014 and 2015 – staying for a month on their last visit.

But they haven’t been since the plane crash – until now.

The family have a two-week holiday booked in July this year, at the same hotel that they stayed in before.

She told Sun Online Travel: “There is nothing to fear - when we visit we go to Naama Bay where it pretty much feels like England.

“People we know have been travelling to Hurghada instead but they say it isn’t the same.

“I’ve been to other holiday destinations like Rhodes and Corfu but there is no comparison because Sharm is so friendly.”

Paul Edwards - The Sun

Like many Brits, Charna and her family have not returned to the resort since the ban - leaving parts looking like a ghost town

Charna says the price of flights have skyrocketed as they now have to transfer via Istanbul – which also adds a considerable amount of time to the journey.

She said: “The flights are a couple of hundred pounds more expensive – they are now costing us £353.63 each.

“It will also take us 8 hours 40 minutes to go from Birmingham to Sharm via Istanbul and then more than 13 hours on the return journey.”

But while the flights have doubled in price, the cost of accommodation has plummeted in Sharm - so the family are paying next to nothing for their hotel.

She said: “The hotel is costing us £119.33 each on an all-inclusive basis for two weeks.

“It’s not a top of the range hotel, it’s the Verginia Sharm Resort - a small 200-room property, but we really like it there and we’re only five minutes from the beach.

“We never really had a fault with security in Sharm, it could have been better, but friends who’ve been there say it’s changed a lot.”

“If anything, it is too secure at Sharm Airport"

Vanessa Heyward, 70, from London but now living in Birmingham, is currently on holiday in Sharm El Sheikh

Vanessa Heyward

Vanessa Heyward is currently on holiday in Sharm and went seven times last year

Retired HR manager Vanessa loves Sharm so much that she spent her 70th birthday there in January – and she went seven times last year.

She told Sun Online Travel that she feels safer out in the Egyptian resort than she did living in London.

She said: “I feel totally and utterly safe – more there than I did living in London.

“Near the hotel where I stay is a place called Soho Square and I walk down there most evenings on my own – it can get quite buzzing.

“The locals love the British – provided you are nice, they can’t do enough for us.”

Vanessa Heyward

Vanessa with her dive club friend Mohamed Ali Hagras

Vanessa, who has been visiting the resort for years, says there is no place like Sharm for her.

She said: “This is my chill out holiday – I love the weather, the people, and the whole ambience.

“I always stay at the Hilton Sharks Bay, which has a floating pontoon off the beach – and by the time you get to the end of the pontoon, you’re on the reef.

“I’ve snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef and in Malaysia, but Sharm is better than both.”

While the resort has changed dramatically thanks to a rise in popularity since the 1990s, some of the biggest changes have been in the last few years since the ban.

Vanessa said: “Sharm used to be quite lively - Naama Bay was like Benidorm with all the Brits who used to go, but now it’s dead, so a lot of the workers have had to go home.

“They encourage the Arabs and the Egyptians to come now - Saudi Arabia wants to build a bridge to Sharm via Tiran Island, because it’s actually not that far.

“I worry about how whether it will destroy the reef and also who it will bring - people who come and have parties at the weekend and then go back?”

Mohamed Ali Hagras

Vanessa has snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef and in Malaysia, but says Sharm is better than both

Like everyone we spoke to, Vanessa can’t understand why the British government continues to enforce the flight ban.

She said: “Both Istanbul and Sharm airports have better security than in the UK and we can also fly into Istanbul – a city that has had many attacks.

“If anything, it is now too secure in some respects at Sharm Airport.

“They will check everything, then double check and empty your bag if they don’t like the look of something minor.”

“I don’t know what more they could do"

Liam Coffey, 47, took eight trips to Sharm El Sheikh last year

Liam Coffey

Liam and Denise Coffey have visited Sharm 15 times in the last two years

Mancunian Liam Coffey, who runs an online e-cigarette business from Benidorm with wife Denise, visits Sharm for the diving.

While they have visited the resort with the Camel Dive Club 15 times in the last two years alone, Liam says the ban put all but the most dedicated British holidaymakers off.

He told us: “The few Brits who go have the mentality that an attack could happen anywhere.

“The ban has had a massive impact – in their heyday our dive club had ten boats out on the water every day with 23-26 divers in each one.

“Now they’re lucky if they get two boats out.

“It’s good for divers because you get to see the wreck and the reef with not many others around, but it’s not good for the place.”

Getty - Contributor

To attract business, local restaurants, cafes and bars have slashed prices

Accommodation is cheaper now as a result – Liam’s hotel offers deals where you pay for the hotel’s B&B and they’ll throw the diving in for free.

To attract business, restaurants, cafes and bars have slashed prices too.

That, combined with the big drop in local currency value means tourists can get by on next to nothing.

Liam said: “On a trip last year April, my son and I ate out every night, and the final bill at the end of the fortnight was just a couple of hundred quid.”

AP:Associated Press

Liam believes that security at Sharm Airport is now among the strictest in the world

Having made several trips through the Sharm airport in the last couple of years, he believes that the security is among the strictest in the world.

He said: “At Sharm El Sheikh airport, you get checked four times by security before you get to the plane – in the UK your bags are only checked once.

“Your car is checked as you arrive at the airport by police  and your cases go through a scanner before you even get inside the terminal.

“Sometime you get a lot of people moaning about security because the queues are long and it slows things down.

“My wife is in a wheelchair and they swab it, they check underneath her cushion, they lift the upholstery on the back – they don’t do any of that in the UK.”

“I don’t know what more they could do to change the government’s mind.”

The Department Of Transport makes the decision on whether to life the ban.

They told Sun Online: “The security of British nationals is our top priority, and we took the decision to suspend flights from Sharm el Sheikh in November 2015 following the Metro Jet crash to
protect the travelling public.

“We continue to work closely with the Egyptian authorities on security arrangements at the airport. We keep aviation security under constant review and will resume flights as soon as we can.”