Travelling to Egypt

By | Category: Travel news, Travel rumblings

Our favourite Middle East holiday destination has had wall-to-wall news coverage over the last 12 hours or so. The French have advised their tour operators not to send French holidaymakers to the country but our foreign office has issued no similar warning. As such, anyone wanting to cancel holidays there in the next week or so has no option other than to lose their money or, maybe wait a bit longer and see if the foreign office does issue a statement saying all but essential travel to anywhere in Egypt is advised against.
The unrest has occurred outside the Red Sea areas of Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada. Luxor seems to have been unaffected but, of course, many tourists go to Cairo to see the pyramids and the national museum which is near the violence. Earlier there were reports that protesters had ringed the museum to protect it. What would not be wished by any tourist, past, present or future would be the sacking of the museum and the damage that would do to not only Egypt’s but the worlds heritage. A book by Fernando Baez called “A Universal History of the Destruction of Books” chronicled the sacking of the national museum and library in Baghdad during the war in Iraq and what was destroyed. 24 major works and 14,000 minor works went, Baez estimated, plus 150,000 clay tablets. Hopefully, the protestors will be successful in protecting all that is in the museum and culture everywhere in the country. Much later it was reported that the army had gone to protect the museum as well.
But for holidaymakers, the foreign office announced an hour or so ago that Britons should not travel to Cairo, Luxor, Suez and Alexandria unless it was essential. Still not quite what nervous holidaymakers want to hear as it doesn’t include the Red Sea resorts. A spokesman for Thomson and First Choice said their flights would go ahead to Sharm but BA, Egyptair, Delta and Kuwait Airways have cancelled flights for at least 12 hours. In reality that is going to mean days. Thomas Cook says it is monitoring the situation and Kuoni are saying they will ring customers but it sounds as though they are also watching what is happening.
It seems clear to many people that Egypt is about to change. If that is right, then Egypt will be volatile whilst order is returned. And that means it may be unsafe for tourists for at least a couple of weeks. But tourism has been one of Egypt’s great success stories and the minister for tourism, Zoheir Garranah, is one of the few ministers in the world who has industry experience in tourism. His 6 years in the role has coincided with its success. If he remains – and even if he doesn’t – Egyptians will want to get tourism restarted as fast as possible.

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