19 April 2022

TUI WORKWIDE Egypt – Honor van Straten

As a global travel group, TUI wants to enable its employees to work abroad from time to time. The pandemic in particular has shown that flexible working is possible. For this reason, TUI WORKWIDE was launched in 2021. Colleagues can work abroad for up to 30 days a year to have a healthy work-life balance. This balance is important for a fulfilling career and overall personal well-being. 

Honor van Straten is Business Support Manager at the TUI Experience Center in Palma de Mallorca. Her husband also works for TUI. Together they used TUI WORKWIDE to adopt a dog from a rescue centre in Sharm el Sheikh.

Here is their story

"I worked in Sharm el Sheikh for TUI UK and Ireland from 2006–2013. This is also where I met my husband. In May 2013, my manager at the time, Karon Jackson, passed away. It was a really terrible time and we were all very sad and affected. To cheer me up, I adopted a rescue dog from a shelter in Sharm el Sheikh – her name was Coco. When we left Egypt at the end of the 2013 season, we took Coco with us, of course, as she was already part of the family. After the time in Egypt, I worked in Crawley in the recruitment team for a few years, then went to Crete and finally to Mallorca. I took Coco everywhere with me, she was quite well known in the TUI world as friends from many destinations met her on our trips. In October 2021, when my mental health was already battered after 18 months of pandemic, the unbelievable happened: Coco died. I was so sad and still am, to be honest. I think it hit me even harder because I had worked from home for so long and she was my constant companion in this crazy reality we have been living in since March 2020. 

In memory of our beloved Coco, we decided to take in another rescue dog from the same shelter in Sharm el Sheikh to give another Egyptian street dog the chance of a good life in Europe. I contacted the shelter and the lady who had placed Coco with me found another dog I would like. But we really struggled to find a way to bring her home, especially as we live in Mallorca and there are no direct flights from Sharm el Sheikh to Palma. Since both my husband and I work for TUI, I came up with the idea of using TUI WORKWIDE and taking a 30-day working holiday in Egypt, getting to know the dog and bringing her home with us when we returned. 

I booked our flights: Palma to Barcelona, Barcelona to Cairo and Cairo to Sharm el Sheikh for 23 February. After a few nights in a hotel, we looked for a flat for the rest of the time where dogs were allowed (not an easy task!). 

Bella was delivered to us on 28 February. She had never lived in a house or flat before, she was a street dog before being taken in by the shelter and was now learning about a completely new life. With TUI WORKWIDE we could work for a few days then take a few days’ leave. A large part of my family also came to Egypt and we spent a great time together – with Bella.

On 31 March we flew to Brussels with a lady from the rescue centre and two other dogs who were to have a new life in the UK. Despite damage to the transport crates for the dogs, we arrived safely in Brussels. The crew were great and helped secure the crates and, even when we got off the plane, the ground staff in Brussels treated the dogs with great care. The cabin manager on the flight was called Pablo. He and the crew were so helpful and caring in their handling of the dogs that I just want to express our utmost gratitude! 

We were picked up by friends in Brussels and then spent a few nights in Eindhoven, Netherlands, with my husband's family. It was snowing, Bella had gone from 30 degrees in Egypt to 0 degrees in the Netherlands, she was completely unfazed by the trip or the dramatic change. We then flew back from Eindhoven to Palma on 2 April. Safely arrived at home, Bella is now getting to know life in Palma de Mallorca. Without TUI WORKWIDE it would have been very difficult for us to bring Bella home. We are overjoyed!"