Update on Egyptian Travel
by Jimmy Dunn
Granted, the "War on Terrorism" is not popular in Egypt. Indeed, if one takes a step back, to refer to any war as popular really seems somewhat strange. Innocent civilians cannot help but die in the process and many people who are not to blame suffer.
That said, I read with interest Michael Goldfarb's article on the MSNBC web site today. Titled, "Cairo can't hide contempt for U.S.", he never actually makes his point. Though he points out that Egyptians are skeptical about the "War on Terrorism", he apparently is enjoying himself, sitting out in the warm night air with his beer. In fact, he even goes on to say that people in Cairo believe "America is right to seek justice, but there still isn't enough proof to justify the attacks". He makes no mention of anyone causing him problems, but does point out President Hosni Mubarak's tight leash on militants, as well as giving the President credit for "crushing several violent Islamic militant groups' during the mid 1990s. All in all, he never mentions any fear or anxiety about being in Egypt and specifically advises us that "There aren't wild demonstrations against America. You don't see posters of Osama bin Laden on the wall".
No wonder. The big news in Egypt is that there is no news, with the exception of a drop in tourism. Otherwise, things are as normal as ever. How normal? Well the U.S. Embassy in Cairo had not issued a Warden Message since the 8th of October, when they advised that "they had received no credible or specific threats to U.S. citizens or interests in Egypt:. The message went on to mention that the embassy was receiving excellent ongoing cooperation from the Government of Egypt. But then, yesterday, they issued another Warden's Message about Anthrax. They didn't mention anything about there having been any threats or instances of anthrax exposure. The message just advises what to do if such an event does happen. I guess it was a slow news day.
Of course in the MSNBC article, we are advised that the every popular Khan el-Khalili market is very slow just now. Sounds like a good time to bargain. And certainly airlines are less crowded; the better to stretch out on a row of seats for a good sleep. And tours are running at less capacity, so one may chat a little more with the guides.
Yes, tourism is down in Egypt, but not for very many good reasons. We continue to monitor the situation, speaking to returning tourists and foreign residents in Egypt. And we continue to here that the tourists are enjoying their tours, some even more than usual because of the lest crowded attractions. For example, only a limited number of people can enter the Great Pyramid each day. Currently, your chances are a lot better at getting in.
Egypt has adopted increased security measures throughout the country in order to assure tourist safety, but basically there is nothing to report. There have been no attacks, and for that matter no attempted attacks. In fact, we know of no tourists having been injured even as a result of crime or any other cause recently. In fact, I keep thinking about an American friend who lives in Egypt but was visiting in the U.S. on September 11th. She told me she couldn't wait to get back to Cairo....where it was safe!
If you have a trip planned, go. Enjoy. If not, this may be the best time ever to plan one.