Germany Issues Travel Warning For All Of Egypt

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BERLIN (AP) - Germany expanded its travel warning Tuesday to all of Egypt, including its popular Red Sea resorts, due to the ongoing unrest in the country, in a major blow to Egypt's already shaken tourism industry.

The warning applies to the entire country, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters, despite the fact that the unrest has not spread to the Red Sea area.

"The safety of our citizens has the highest priority for us," Westerwelle said.

Some 1.2 million Germans visit Egypt each year, making it one of the top three sources of tourists - along with Britain and Russia.

Germany's three major tour operators - Rewe Touristik, TUI AG and Thomas Cook's German subsidiary - were quick to react, canceling all trips to Egypt through Feb. 14 and offering guests booked through Feb. 28 the chance to change to another destination without additional charge.

The Foreign Ministry said that "because the overall situation in Egypt is now chaotic and hard to predict, this advisory explicitly includes the tourist resorts on the Red Sea coast, even though the situation there is currently calm."

Germany previously beefed up its travel advisory on Sunday, cautioning its citizens against visiting Cairo and other urban centers shaken by the recent protests.

The Foreign Ministry estimates that, in addition to the tourists there, "several tens of thousands" Germans live in Egypt, but there are currently no plans to evacuate its citizens on a large scale.

Airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG has added capacity to bring home up to 900 people a day from Cairo and Alexandria. Officials have estimated that at least some 30,000 Germans are currently on vacation in the resorts on Egypt's Red Sea coastline.

Westerwelle reiterated the German government's support to the right of peaceful protests in Egypt, adding the country needs "free and fair elections."

"It is important that the democratic process gets a real chance," he said. "We're not taking sides for some people, but for democracy, civil and human rights."