Egypt travel advice: is it safe to go?

August 15, 2013

Egypt Travel

By 

As Egypt reels from the worst violence in decades, the nation’s vital tourism industry seems certain to suffer. Egyptian security officials are forcefully dispersing sit-ins, resulting in a spiralling toll in deaths and injuries, while the country is under emergency law until further notice. So what to do if you’re already booked to holiday there?

The Foreign Office (FCO) currently advises against all but essential travel to the country, except for the Red Sea resorts, such as Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab. Meanwhile, the Egyptian daily newspaper al Alhram reports that the ministry of state for antiquities has closed all archaeological sites and museums across Egypt.

British Airways says it has altered flights schedules to Cairo so that they do not land in the evening, into the dusk-to-dawn curfew that has been imposed across the capital and other major areas. “We are keeping the situation in Egypt under constant review,” a British Airways spokesperson said. “We are also offering customers the option of rebooking to a later date, or to another destination.”

Britain’s biggest travel operator, Thomson and First Choice, states: “The majority of our customers are in Sharm el-Sheikh which is a considerable distance – indeed, an eight-hour drive – from Cairo. There have been no related incidents in Sharm el-Sheikh or any of the other popular Red Sea tourist areas.” Booking conditions for the resort destinations of Sharm el Sheikh, Marsa Alam, Taba and Hurghada remain “as normal”, with tourists flying into the resorts airports. The operator currently has 11,769 British tourists in Egypt.

The vast majority of travellers heading to the Red Sea resorts fly there directly. EasyJet runs flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, which land outside of curfew hours. A spokesperson for the airline said the company can refund tickets that have already been booked, but added they haven’t seen any demand for this.

The UK travel association Abta also states that conditions relating to travel to Red Sea resorts are continuing as normal, although customers travelling outside of this area “will be offered the option of deferring their date of travel, transferring to another destination or having a full refund for as long as the advice remains in place”. It assures that: “Red Sea resorts are largely self-contained and autonomous with the majority of customers staying in large complexes, often all-inclusive with a wide selection of bars and restaurants.”

But the FCO has further cautions on what travellers should do when they actually get to these resorts. Its latest statement says: “Travel advice for Red Sea resorts remains unchanged but local authorities in Sharm el-Sheikh have temporarily stopped tourist excursions. In Hurghada the police have advised tourists to remain within hotel grounds. We advise British tourists to follow the regulations set by the local authorities and to obey curfews. British tourists should also ensure they keep valid identification with them at all times.”

Travel journalist Matthew Teller, who specialises in the Middle East, says that there is an inherent difficulty around travel advice in such cases.

“What the FCO does or doesn’t say rules the roost in terms of what tour operators can and can’t offer clients.” Even if it doesn’t seem like you can do much while you’re there, major tour operators aren’t likely to let you change plans if you’re booked to travel to an area the FCO has deemed to be safe for travel.

Meanwhile, cruise operators MSC, Costa and Holland America Line are all reported to have pulled their Egypt-bound ships. This latest crisis will be a sharp blow to the Egyptian tourism industry, which is struggling to recover in the turbulent period following the uprising of 2011, which deposed Hosni Mubarak.

In 2010, a record 14m tourists arrived in Egypt and the industry represented 13% of GDP, directly or indirectly employing one in seven workers. But even before the recent crisis, the Egyptian tourism federation estimated hotel occupancy rates in Cairo to be around 15% while in Luxor – the site of the Valley of the Kings, that figure was barely in single digits.

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Egypt ministry of tourism releases a surprise statement

July 8, 2013

Egypt Tourist minster

The Ministry of Tourism of the Arab Republic of Egypt is proud to proclaim a new era for Egyptian tourism following the revolution of June 30, 2013.

This statement was received by eTurboNews from Mr. Mohamed Gamal, general manager of the Egyptian Tourist office in Frankfurt, Germany.

Mr. Gamal went on to say:” Every tourist visiting Egypt presently is a most welcomed guest, whose security is safeguarded by the Egyptian people and by the authorities, and all must be assured of their safety and ability to complete their planned visits without disruption. Their families and friends at home should be equally reassured.

Tourists booked to visit Egypt this summer are equally reassured that there is no impediment to their visit. They will come to enjoy Egypt as millions of tourists have done for years and years, in safety and security, welcomed by their friendly and hospitable Egyptian hosts.

Tourism in Egypt is expected to boom as of next fall as the country settles down to its newfound democracy which will bring peace and prosperity to this great country and its united people. Welcome to Egypt!”

Even during the heat of violent protests in Cairo, tourist enjoyed diving and beautiful beaches away from the Capital.

Egyptians however  remain deeply divided about which direction their country should go as supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Hundred thousands went to the street on Sunday. The protests come two days after clashes left 36 people dead and more than 1,000 wounded.

Away from the streets, an attempt to install Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister was quashed after an Islamist group objected to the Nobel laureate. State media and other sources had confirmed the appointment on Saturday, but later in the day the president’s spokesperson walked it back.

The latest statement by the Ministry of Tourism spokesperson in Germany demonstrates how important travel & tourism is for Egypt as an industry. Most likely tourists will continue to enjoy unspoiled beaches, but may have to stay back from Cairo and the Pyramides for some time.

FYI: The U.S. State Department and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have urged citizens to cancel travel plans to or within Egypt, amid ongoing protests and renewed violence in the country.


Ethiopia ignores war threat from Egypt in order to ratify Nile Treaty

June 14, 2013

ethiopia nile

By Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome

 

The longstanding row over the use of the Nile waters, for which the dictates of the 1929 and 1959 treaties between Britain and Egypt were shoved down the throats of the Nile basin countries on independence, resulted last year in the required number of members of the Nile Basin Initiative to sign on to a new negotiated treaty to make it legally binding, inspite of Egypt and Khartoum Sudan refusing to accept the majority verdict. Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia signed the new treaty while new member South Sudan indicated they too would add their signature, possibly ahead or alongside the meeting next week when the 21st Council of Ministers session will take place in Juba.

In recent weeks did Egypt sound the war drums in an attempt to intimidate Ethiopia not to ratify the new treaty and halt their plans for the construction of a new hydro electric power plant on the Blue Nile, aptly named the Great Renaissance Dam, to which the regime in Cairo vehemently objected. A grand blunder by a national TV station in Egypt then showed live scenes from discussions in parliament in Cairo, where the majority of members advocated strongly for military action against Ethiopia, leaving the Morsi regime in a bind as their intent and purpose became exposed for the world to see.

The 6.000 MW project, which is thought to have the capacity to not only transform Ethiopia’s economy but also provide electricity to neighbours South Sudan, Sudan (Khartoum) and even to Kenya, is a do or die project for Ethiopia and work on temporarily diverting the Nile at the site where the dam is due to be constructed has started last week. Egypt’s Morsi left ‘all options open’ following the publicity debacle his regime suffered when members of his party were outspoken about blowing up the dam to ‘save our water’, with the result that the riparian states upstream have moved closer together to resist such aggression and extortion.

Ethiopa has now formally ratified the new Nile Treaty and the other water producing countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have equally left no doubt, that while they respect the right of Egypt to water from the Nile, it will be the framework of the new treaty and not, as Egypt and Khartoum continue to insist, the old agreements of 1929 and 1959 which will henceforth govern the use of the Nile waters and the waters of upstream lakes and contributory rivers.

Interesting were opinions emerging from conservation circles in Kenya, who have been hugely critical of Ethiopia’s plans for the Gibe III dam, which is bound to very likely cause irreparable damage to the Lake Turkana ecosystem: ‘We have no issues at all with the new Renaissance dam in Ethiopia. Perhaps our support for that dam can persuade Addis to review the issues we presented about Gibe III and the impact that has on Lake Turkana. We support Ethiopia’s right to build the new Renaissance dam and their right to decide on how to use their share of Nile waters. With 6.000 MW it will provide enough power for Ethiopia, South Sudan and even for us here in Kenya to purchase from Ethiopia. Our cooperation on the LAPSSET project too should signal to Addis that quid pro quo has its advantages so why not give back on the issue of Gibe III’ said a regular source in Nairobi, who in the past was often making comments when touching on the Gibe III project and its impact on the Lake Turkana ecosystem.

There are strong indications that alongside the meeting in Juba next week, the upstream riparian states will also confer over the threats made against Ethiopia and discuss contingencies and countermeasures, should Egypt continue to show open hostility against fellow member Ethiopia. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni also waded into the debate when he commented on the topic while speaking about the budget reading in Kampala. He was quoted in local media to have said: ‘I have seen statements in the media coming out of the government of Egypt about the commendable work of Ethiopia. What Ethiopia is doing is what governments in Africa should do.

The new government of Egypt should not repeat the mistakes of previous governments, the biggest threat to the Nile is not building hydropower dams, the biggest threat is the continued under development of countries in the tropics. No African wants to hurt Egypt, however, Egypt cannot continue to hurt black Africa’ coming out clearly on the side of Ethiopia and setting the stage for a partisan meeting of the Nile Basin Initiative ministers next week in Juba. Perhaps time for the regime in Cairo to sit back and reflect on how they are now perceived among the African upstream riparian states as a war mongering radical country, and to devise ways and means to cooperate instead of confront, to work with the African countries and not against them and how to formulate new partnerships instead of trampling the rights of African countries into the desert dust. Watch this space.


P&O Cruises has cancelled a stop in Egypt’s Port due to fear of unrest

February 20, 2013

Egypt port

P&O Cruises has cancelled a stop in Egypt’s Port Said on Oceana’s current Eastern Mediterranean cruise, opting instead to spend two days in Alexandria.

The cancellation comes just a few weeks after P&O cancelled Ashdod in Israel due to “security issues.” The line took the decision to swap Port Said (for Cairo) for the quieter Mediterranean port of Alexandria, where the ship is currently berthed, to avoid being in Egypt on a Friday. Generally, unrest has typically taken place after morning prayers on a Friday.

Despite security concerns, all tours to Cairo have gone ahead as planned — including an overnight tour in the capital city — without incident.

A spokeswoman for P&O said: “Port Said was cancelled following assessment of the current disorder in that particular city.

“Alexandria does not currently have these levels of disorder, hence we are content for our ships to visit there. The excursions we are currently running to Cairo have been risk-assessed at the highest level and avoid Tahrir Square.

“In summary, Port Said has been cancelled due to specific issues in that City.”

A number of lines have been forced to alter or cancel intineraries to Egypt in recent months, including Regent Seven Seas, which changed an itinerary in November; and Norwegian Cruise Line which cancelled all calls in Egypt for this season.


Travel predictions for 2012 show Americans traveling farther, spending more

January 1, 2012

ADMAS TRAVEL & TOURS

By KRISTI PIHL

More Americans are expected to travel farther from home in 2012 according to a recent survey by Travel Leaders.Of the top 20 travel destinations, 11 are in Europe, Asia and Australia, which is up from 9 in 2011.And more than  91 percent of Travel Leaders surveyed say clients will spend the same or more on travel in 2012 as compared to last year.                            The survey is based on booking data and was conducted from Nov. 21 to Dec. 16 using responses from 640 Travel Leaders owners, managers and travel experts in the nation. Travel Leaders has offices in the Mid-Columbia. About 43 percent of clients are spending about the same per trip as they did in 2011, while 44 percent are spending somewhat more, according to the survey.“Our surveyed travel agents indicate there’s an increase in interest and bookings for small ship cruising, off-the-beaten path travel, and international family travel,” said Roger E. Block, CTC, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group, which includes travel agency locations from coast to coast. “With these luxury-oriented segments on the rise, it’s no wonder the overall optimism our Travel Leaders have heading into 2012 based on bookings to-date for the upcoming year is also very high.”Travel Leaders travel agents nationwide say Croatia is the top “up and coming” international destination in Europe, Vietnam is tops within Asia and Panama narrowly edges out Ecuador and Brazil among destinations in Central and South America.And more travelers are planning ahead, with 64 percent booking travel within the United States eight weeks or more ahead and 90 percent booking international travel 8 weeks or more ahead, according to the survey.

Here is the top 20 list of international destinations based on the survey: 1. CRUISE- Caribbean, same as 2010 2. Cancun, Mexico, same as 2010 3. Playa del Carmen, Mexico, more than 2010 4. CRUISE- Europe (Mediterranean), 3rd in 2010 5. Rome, Italy, same as 2010 6. London, England, same as 2010 7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 9th in 2010 8. Paris, France, 11th in 2010 9. Montego Bay, Jamaica, 7th in 2010 10. Negril, Jamaica, 15th in 2010 11. Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, Mexico, 12th in 2010 12. Florence and/or Tuscany, Italy, 14th in 2010 13. CRUISE- Europe (River), tied for 21 in 2010 14. Beijing, China, 16th in 2010 15. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 13th in 2010 16. (tie) between CRUISE- Mexico, was 10th in 2010, and Sydney, Australia, 19th in 2010 18. Barcelona, Spain, 20th in 2010 19. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, tied for 26 in 2010 20. Hong Kong, China, tied for 23 in 2010 Here is the top 20 list of United States destinations for 2012 according to the survey: 1. Las Vegas, NV, same as 2010 2. Orlando, FL, same as 2010 3. Maui, HI, tied for 4th in 2010 4. Cruise – Alaska, 3rd in 2010 5. New York City, NY, 6th in 2010 6. Honolulu, HI, tied for 4th in 2010 7. Washington, D.C., same as 2010 8. Chicago, IL, tied for 10th in 2010 9. Los Angeles, CA, 12th in 2010 10. Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ, tied for 10th in 2010 11. Atlanta, GA, 15th in 2010 12. San Francisco, CA, 9th in 2010 13. Fort Myers, FL, tied for 19th in 2010 14. Cruise – Hawaii, 8th in 2010 15. Fort Lauderdale, FL, 16th in 2010 16. Anaheim/Orange County, CA, tied for 13th in 2010 17. Lihue (Kauai), HI, tied for 22 in 2010 18. Miami/Miami Beach, FL, tied for 13th in 2010 19. tied between Kona (Big Island), HI, tied for 26th in 2010, and Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL, 18th in 2010.

Source: Business beat


Experiencing the high life in Kenya

July 13, 2011

By Rick Shively

Kenya, the acknowledged birthplace of the safari and home to some of the richest and most verdant wildlife you’ll find in Africa, is also utilizing its “Magical Kenya” powers today – not to mention taking a lesson from the success of the luxury andBeyond and Singita camps and lodges in South Africa – to develop some unforgettable luxury camps and lodges of its own.

The trouble with defining and identifying a luxury product in a place like Kenya is dealing with the issues of subjectivity, taste and the changing nature of the luxury marketplace in terms of the changing demands of the luxury traveler. So to help define that product and the demands of high-end travelers, we went to three different luxury tour operators—all of whom said the majority of their luxury clients customize—to get their input on their experiences in this very unique and diverse destination.

For example, David Jones, v.p. at Ker & Downey, emphasizes that luxury these days is not just about booking over-the-top, drop-dead gorgeous properties. “It’s more about experiential travel now, it’s not just luxury anymore. We’re finding that our particular clients have the means to spend pretty much whatever they want on travel and they want to incorporate the luxury with the experience. They want to ensure that it’s a valid experience and not just a luxury hotel because they can go to a wonderful Four Seasonsanywhere in the world. But they want to make sure the experience matches up with the luxury.” Read more:  http://agent.recommend.com/magazine-archive/october-2010/experiencing-the-high-life-in-kenya/


EXPERIENCE THE ANTIQUITIES OF EGYPT

July 4, 2011

By Getachew Teklu

Egypt is probably the world’s oldest civilization having emerged from the Nile Valley around 3,100 BC, historically. Egypt is probably one of the oldest vacation spots. Early Greeks, romans and others went there just for fun, and to see the wonders of some of mankind’s earliest triumphs. But Egypt is much more than Pyramids and monuments. It is also Red Sea scuba diving, hot night spots, luxury hotels and five star restaurants. It is romantic cruises down the Nile on festive river boats, a night at the grand opera and it is a cultural experience like none you have ever experienced. Egypt is a land bustling with life, sound, visual beauty and excitement. More than anything else, we want you to think of Egypt as fun. For thousands of years, it has been the playground of emperors and kings, and we hope you will take the time to find out why.

Visit one of the most awe-inspiring remnants of ancient civilization. Dating back to 5,000 B.C., Egypt boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of artifacts and monuments on the planet. A trip to Egypt will include a visit to the Pyramids of Giza, the enigmatic Sphinx, magnificent Abu Simbel, monuments of Luxor and granite statues in Aswan and of course a cruise down the ancient Nile river. Your experience in Egypt will be one of luxury, with attention to every detail of the itinerary, from the private transfers, to the sophistication of your guides
and level of accommodations. For more info visit http://en.egypt.travel/


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