Winter is peak tourist season; who doesn’t want to catch a little winter sun, right? Violence in Cairo last weekend raises the question, just how safe is Egypt right now? If you’re planning a holiday in Egypt this month, here’s what you need to know.
Many of Egypt’s tour operators insist that Egypt is safe to visit, despite the violence that struck Cairo last weekend. Bombs nearly obliterated the city’s Museum of Islamic Art and at least 80 people were killed in demonstrations that marked the 3rd anniversary of the 2011 revolution.
Current travel advice:
With a number of anniversaries coming up in Egypt, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office cautions,
From 1 February for approximately 2 months there will be several anniversaries in Egypt which are expected to prompt protests, some of which could turn violent. Protests, marches and demonstrations are common across Egypt. Demonstrations often happen on Fridays, but can occur at any time and with little prior notice. The atmosphere at demonstrations can change quickly and without warning. Police may use water cannon, tear gas, birdshot or live ammunition for crowd control.
It was only two months ago that the FCO lifted its travel warning against all but essential travel to most of Egypt, including Luxor, Alexandria and Cairo. Tourists heading straight to the resorts in Sharm El Sheikh along the Red Sea Coast will see little that is unusual but those using Cairo as a base to visit the Great Pyramids should be cautious.
I have a trip planned and want to cancel. Now what?
Those with upcoming trips to Cairo cannot cancel without incurring a fee unless the Foreign and Commonwealth Office warns travellers against all but essential travel there. If protests and demonstrations escalate, this could be likely. Each tour operator is different and if you are concerned, it’s best to get in touch with your trip operator to see what are the options.
Visitor numbers are way down in Egypt. According to Reuters, tourism revenue has dropped 41% last year (which accounts for some £3.6 billion), compared to 2012. Tourist numbers for 2013 were around 9 million, compared to 14 million the year before.
The FCO updates its Egypt Travel Advice daily so if you’re planning a trip in the next couple weeks, stay up to date.