Major tour operator Thomas Cook cancelled its excursions yesterday from resorts in Egypt to the tourist sites of Cairo, while Thomson and First Choice are currently liaising with 27 customers staying in Cairo hotels, and have cancelled all excursions to the city until further notice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned travellers to avoid political gatherings and demonstrations and to respect any advice or instruction from the local security authorities.

It has so far refrained from advising tourists to cancel their plans, but those planning to visit the country are advised to check the FCO website for updates. Visitors can also register with the online Locate service, which enables embassy staff to keep track of British citizens abroad.

More than 1.3 million British tourists visited Egypt last year, but the majority of them headed to resorts along the Red Sea coast rather than Cairo, Alexandria or the towns of the northern Nile Delta — the areas where this week’s protests have taken place.

Those who did visit the capital would have been greeted by a different image from the one that the tourist-friendly Mubarak regime seeks to depict.

The pyramids lie in the suburb of Giza, which on Tuesday was the scene of protests. The Egyptian Museum — home to the famous death mask of Tutankhamun — lies just a few hundred yards from Tahrir Square, where police fired rounds of teargas.