Beating the flight ban on holidays in Sharm el-Sheikh

Scuba diving in Sharm el-Sheikh Image copyright Getty Images

It's the Red Sea resort with sun, sand and spectacular scuba diving. But the Egyptian holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh is not as busy as it was.

Ever since the suspected bombing of a Russian airliner killed all 224 people on board, UK flights to the resort have been banned.

As a group of more than 30 travel firms called on the government to reverse the ban, we spoke to two British couples who have refused to give up their break in the Egyptian sun.

Keith and Jill Endean

Image copyright Keith and Jill Endean
Image caption Keith and Jill Endean diving in Sharm el-Sheikh

Keith, 53, and his wife Jill, 58, live in Sheffield. Keen divers, they have been holidaying in Sharm el-Sheikh for 14 years.

Despite the flight ban, they visited for a week in September, flying via Cairo.

"We first went to Sharm el-Sheikh in 2001 when we learnt to dive," Keith says.

"We've gone at least twice a year to that same dive club since 2003.

"We've got friends there. It's always been accessible and cheap."

And those friends from the dive club have helped them find a way round the ban.

"We share tips on social media on which airlines are flying there and how we can get there," Keith says.

'Safer than London'

They're not concerned about security.

"I feel more secure in Sharm el-Sheikh than I do in London," Keith says.

"How many terrorist attacks have there been in Paris?

"No-one's stopping me going to Paris. No-one's stopping me going to Belgium."

"Airport security has been visibly increased," Jill notes.

And the downturn in tourism has affected the local economy.

Image copyright Keith and Jill Endean
Image caption Keith and Jill were the only two divers staying at the Oonas Dive Club on their most recent visit
Image copyright Keith and Jill Endean
Image caption "The finished diving rack says it all," said Keith

"The dive club's staff are depleted as they don't have enough custom to employ a full complement of staff," Keith says.

"The wife of one of our friends has not had work for two months."

Keith and Jill plan to return in January.

"It's a long, drawn-out trip, but well worth it," Jill says.

Julie and Peter Gallagher

Image copyright Julie and Peter Gallagher

Julie, 64, and her husband Peter, 74, live in Halifax, West Yorkshire. They have been visiting Sharm el-Sheikh up to three times a year for the past five years.

They recently returned to the UK after a fortnight-long break in the Egyptian resort with two friends they met there on a previous trip.

"We had an amazing holiday," Julie says.

"We have travelled extensively and have never found anywhere to equal Sharm el-Sheikh."

"It's an ideal holiday - lovely people, lovely place," Peter adds. "We just love the place."

They were due to fly to the resort in early November last year but the trip was cancelled after the flight ban came into force.

"We tried again in December, then in February," Peter says.

"We just kept booking with our travel agent."

'Hotels struggling'

Like Keith and Jill, they have also noticed the area becoming visibly quieter.

"We always stay in the same hotel," Peter says. "The manager told us that 80 hotels have been closed down."

"The resort is struggling and they don't deserve this," Julie adds.

"The hotels are struggling even though they have so much to offer."

Produced by Chris Bell, BBC UGC & Social News team

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