Editor’s Note: ATTA Member and Advisory Board Member Manal S. Kelig, of Gateway to Egypt, has kept the ATTA leadership apprised of the situation in Egypt over the past month. Manal has asked that we share with ATTA Membership and AdventureTravelNews.com readers the following update about how the dramatic events unfolding in Egypt and the Middle East have significantly hurt tourism. This note includes an appeal to the industry to support a rapid return and reinvestment into this extraordinary adventure travel destination.
Between 25 January and 11 February 2011, Egypt has witnessed series of events that have led to a popular revolution in Egypt. There were major disturbances in different parts of Egypt including Cairo, Suez, Alexandria and minor disturbances in some areas of Upper Egypt, including Luxor that has caused Tourism to come a standstill. Over the past month we have been continuously evaluating the situation in Egypt with the safety and well being of the travellers as our first priority. After monitoring the situation for the past weeks and following up closely on the security updates issued by the Egyptian Armed Forces, it can be stated that the security situation in Cairo and other major cities has significantly improved. The cities of Luxor, Aswan and the Red Sea resorts, including Sharm el Sheikh remain calm with life back to normal. The cities of Cairo and Alexandria are still witnessing various small protests mainly labours and worker strikes, but they have not raised any security concerns.
As the situation in Egypt returns close to normal, tourism stakeholders from the private and public sectors felt confident to call for tourists to return back to Egypt. All tourism sites are open to the public, many airlines have resumed flights, tour operators from different parts of the world have resumed selling holidays to Egypt and governments have updated their travel advises to reflect the rapidly changing situation.
The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism in coordination with the Ministry of Interior Security and Foreign consulates in Egypt have discussed lifting the travel ban on Egypt and changing their travel advice. The Foreign Consulates who responded are:
- The United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Australia have lifted their travel ban against all cities of Egypt.
- Spain , Belgium, Austria have lifted its travel ban against traveling to Luxor & Aswan and Red Sea Resorts.
- Ukraine, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Finland, Italy lifted its travel ban against traveling to the Red Sea Resorts.
- The U.S.A and Russia did not lift its ban yet but there are expectations that it will be lifted soon and few of the American tour operators who have serial tours to Egypt have announced that they will start their tours by mid March.
Our team has conducted visits to all of the sites in the cities that has witnessed the civil unrest and we would like to share with you the following:
- All the sites in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and the rest of Egypt are open and receive tourists as per their regular working hours. Also many Egyptians have taken the effort to visit the various sites whether individually or with their families and children especially in the weekend.
- The curfews in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria have been modified to be between 12 midnight and 6.00 am which does not affect the sightseeing, domestic flights or sleeper trains. As for the rest of the Egyptian cities there is no curfew.
- All the international and domestic airports of Egypt are open and all major airlines are operating and some have rescheduled their flights to fit with the curfew.
- The restaurants, cafes , shopping malls , sound light shows , dinner cruises , ATM machines are operating in all parts of Egypt.
- The traffic in Cairo is quite congested and can interrupt the tours. That is why we highly recommend that all travelers to Cairo to be open to enjoying a flexible itinerary, where his/her Egyptologist guides and representatives will advise them very closely on the traffic updates and make sure they avoid the roads with any public gatherings and disturbances.
The political situation keeps unfolding in Egypt and the wind of change has many things to bring and we will regularly share with you these changes and its effect on tourism.”