Update on Travel in Egypt
By Jimmy Dunn
Please note that the following discussion does not necessarily represent official views of the Egyptian government in general, or the Ministry of Tourism specifically, but is rather based on first hand interviews and observations by Tour Egypt Staff. We continue to be in constant contact with tourists currently traveling in Egypt, those just returning home, as well as ex-pats foreigners working and living in Egypt, and Egyptians themselves. Many of these contacts have been with Americans. In addition, this morning (October 4th) we have been in contact with people at hotels in Egypt, as well as the American Embassy in Cairo. Of course, our inquires regard the situation there in the aftermath of the September 11th events in New York and Washington
So far, we have not heard of a single injury, and of course, we know of no incident where any tourist has died due to any sort of violence now for a number of years. The American Embassy in Cairo informs us that tourism is operating normally, with the exception that the Egyptian government has stepped up security in all areas. But asked specifically if there have been any changes in attitude, we are told that there seems to be little change now, as opposed to before the tragic events in the USA. Of course, Egypt is no friend of terrorism and a number of Egyptians also died in the World Trade Center attack. In Egypt, there is a long standing crackdown on extremists that continues today. In addition, recent comments by the US government regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have been well received in Arabic countries, and there appears to be an attitude in the US government concerning Arab relations that may go far in promoting calm within the region.
As we have pointed out in the past, there is little crime in Egypt, and in most cities of the world, crime has been responsible for many more incidents of tourist injury than terrorism.
It is interesting to note that some of the Egyptians I spoke to this morning asked why it was taking so long for the US to take action against the terrorists, sentiments that I was not anticipating.
Of course, tourism to Egypt, as elsewhere, has been slow lately, and many Egyptians are highly reliant on tourism for their income. Some feel that the sooner the US takes action, the sooner tourist numbers will return to normal.
In fact, tourism to Egypt, which has been safe for many years, is now probably safer then ever with the heightened security, and this brings up another interesting point. There are a lot of good deals being reported with hotels dropping their prices and tour companies eager to fill tours. Hotel occupancy is considerably lower then usual with some major hotels reporting occupancy as low as 20% and less. We have also just learned, for example, that a recent Abercrombie & Kent cruise had only 4 passengers.
So, for those who have always wanted to go to Egypt, this may actually be one of the best opportunities. Not only may prices be reduced, but tours, hotels and airlines less crowded, upgrades more readily available and everything very secure.