Most German tourists have stayed on in the Hurghada hotel where a British couple died last week amid continuing speculation over the cause of their deaths.
The sudden deaths of the elderly British couple while on a Thomas Cook package holiday in the Steigberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Egyptian resort led to widespread media and social media speculation about the causes. Their daughter, who was on holiday with them, said they had been in normal health and claimed that they might have died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by faulty air-conditioning. But Egyptian officials said that investigations had shown that John and Susan Cooper had died of natural causes and there were no problems with the room’s air-conditioning.
At the same time, some hotel guests complained about being taken ill due to poorly-prepared food in the hotel. However, the Steigenberger Hotel said that only 23 out of 1,995 guests had made complaints.
In response, Thomas Cook said it had no evidence that the tragic deaths might have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning but would work closely with the hotel and support local authorities with their investigations. The tourism group noted that it last audited the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in late July and gave it an overall score of 96%.
But against the background of food poisoning claims, Cook took the precautionary step of moving all its 300 customers, including a double-digit number of German tourists, to alternative hotels in the destination and giving them the option to fly home early. “While we understand this is upsetting for those on holiday, we believe this is the right thing to do,” the company stated. Cook has also offered alternative accommodation to customers due to travel to the Steigenberger Hotel in Hurghada until 20 September.
However, Cook’s move was criticised by the regional governor, Ahmed Abdallah, as an over-reaction driven by a desire to respond to customer concerns. He said there were no safety issues in the hotel that might have caused the deaths. In the latest development, Thomas Cook Group CEO Peter Fankhauser flew to Cairo yesterday to meet the Egyptian prime minister to discuss the situation.
Meanwhile, German tour operators, who also had guests in the Steigenberger Aqua Magic, told fvw that most of their customers had decided to remain in the hotel and complete their holidays. FTI, the largest German tour operator to Egypt, said the couple had died of natural causes according to the doctors’ report, and it had only received a few enquiries about re-booking to other hotels.
TUI said it was monitoring the situation closely and had sent experts to Hurghada. “On the basis of current information, we cannot see any connection between the deaths and the health or safety standards in the hotel.” Nearly all TUI guests were continuing their holidays, according to the company.