are Egypt tours safe?
This has to be one of the most asked questions right now, especially after the revolutions of January 2011 and June 2013. To be honest it is actually safer for tourists here than it is for many Egyptians! Granted, what happened in Taba in February 2014, with the blowing up of the bus containing South Korean tourists, was not good news, but without trying to make that event sound light, attacks aimed at locals and tourists have happened here for many years: bombings in Taba and Nuweiba (October 2004); Sharm El Sheikh (July 2005); Dahab (April 2006); the Khan El Khalili (February 2009); and of course the infamous massacre at Deir El Bahri (the Temple of Hatshepsut) in Luxor (November 1997). The big problem is terrorism is a worldwide threat, not something that is just confined to Egypt! If one was to look at a list of terrorist attacks, as well as cold-blooded shootings and such-like, it would seem that there are only two places left in the world that are safe to visit: the Arctic and the Antarctic!
The most important thing that any reputable tour company in Egypt has to do is to ensure the safety of their customers; whether it be a huge company with hundreds of staff or a small company run by just a couple of people. Should a situation arise (the January 25th revolution for example), then the safety of the customer is paramount and procedures are put into place to get them out of harm’s way, even out of the country, as soon as possible: with no extra cost for doing so, and refunding where applicable (many companies lost a lot of money, some had to cease trading, ensuring the safety of their customers in January/February 2011 and making sure all due monies were refunded). Granted, there are lots and lots of companies who simply do not care, they just want the profits, but this is a worldwide phenomenon and not just Egyptian. Many of those companies actually no longer exist: the customers DID get their refunds, even by using the courts, and so the companies own attitudes forced them out of business! Each and every tourist is looked at as a human being, a fellow human being, and this is why the reputable companies will do all they can for them.
So, the question still remains, is Egypt safe? Going by reports in the media it would appear to be no. But from the ground in the country itself, by actually going out into the streets and visiting the places that tourists normally visit, the answer is yes, and very much so. Egypt’s tourist sites are safe, they all have a heavy police presence and this helps keeps the idiots away. Ironically, these sites are actually safer since the ouster of ex-President Mohamed Morsi than they were after the resignation of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, the relevant authorities obviously learning from their mistakes. But as we are talking about Egypt being safe NOW, not in the near or distant past, let us look at a few things for proof.
Since the ouster of ex-President Morsi, there have been many problems throughout Egypt, but especially in Cairo. These facts are reported by the media, either wholly or semi-truthfully (or in the case of a media outlet based in Qatar, almost truth free) and the world listens. Unfortunately, the follow up is never done! Take the situation of the sit-in, and eventual clearance, of the Rabaa Al Adawiya Mosque. Forgetting the ins and outs, right and wrongs, of what happened in August 2013 (this article is not judgemental in any way towards the ouster, and subsequent aftermaths, of ex-President Morsi), there are some facts about the location of the Mosque that people should know. It is actually located in an area of Nasr City that tourists do not visit, unless they wish to see the site where ex-President Anwar Sadat was assassinated or his burial place, across the main road at the Unknown Soldier Memorial. There are no hotels or major tourist sites in the immediate vicinity, yet it is/was the epicentre of the world’s government’s advisory warnings to not travel to Egypt! The Rabaa Al Adawiya Mosque is now as it was before the sit-in, though with a medium police presence, and the traffic is as manic as ever.
None of the major tourist sites has been in any type of danger. The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (the Egyptian Museum or Cairo Museum), in Tahrir Square, was not ransacked this time and has been open for business throughout. To be perfectly honest, the Museum of Islamic Art is the only tourist site to be damaged, and it was only included in specialised itineraries, so was not what is generally termed a “major site”. Likewise the Mallawi Museum near Minya; well off the tourist path and only, usually, visited by those who have a specialised reason for doing so.
Right now Egypt is as safe to visit as it was prior to the January 25th revolution. Granted there are the unfortunate deaths of police and army personnel, but Egypt has always had a problem with troublemakers coming from the Sinai, it was just not headlining news whenever it occurred. Downtown Cairo is now street stall-free, with plenty of room to walk around the tourist shops in Talaat Harb, Kasr El Nil, and Tahrir Street. The streets are being regularly patrolled to ensure it stays so, and this has also led to a lot more cleanliness, with street sweepers and street washers driving around, throughout the night. There are no mass marches throughout the capital, and if any do occur they are swiftly dealt with, and they are never in areas frequented by tourists.