This entry was posted on February 7, 2013, in Tourism
Summarized Answer: Yes!
Through the past 2 years, Egypt has witnessed a turbulent economic and political atmosphere. From the Port Said Stadium Massacre to frequent unrest at Tahrir Square, tourists often start to think that Egypt has become unsafe. This has resulted in very low hotel occupancy rates – with only 30% occupancy during peak times – and has severely impacted Egypt’s tourism sector, leading to higher unemployment and the closure of several businesses.
However, despite the lack of law and order, very little of Egypt’s instability actually impacts the tourists. All major tourist attractions are well-guarded and locals are more than glad to be receiving foreigners (you are their business!).
Going to the Citadel in Cairo – for example – you cannot enter with a car/bus unless you are a tour group (or government official). Upon entering the Citadel, you then have to go through a security check (normally metal detectors) and most Egyptians are asked to show their ID. The same rules apply almost everywhere – with some obvious exceptions, such as Khan El-Khalili – throughout Egypt: from Luxor and Aswan, to the historic Hanging Church and the Jewish Quarter in Cairo.
Yet, the heightened security is not limited to tourist attractions. All shopping centres, hotels, compounds, government buildings, hospitals, and banks have extensive security checks.
However, do not expect to be able to waltz around Tahrir Square in the middle of the afternoon and expect to be safe. Security at Tahrir Square and at other public areas (outdoor cafes, streets, parks) is largely dependent on the locals.
Despite this, I witnessed several tour groups visiting Tahrir Square in December following a necessary visit to Egypt’s National Museum next-door. Although they were hassled by merchants (“Buy this Gold souvenir of Tutankhamun!”), the locals welcomed the curious onlookers and even posed for photographs.
Nevertheless, news of violence across Egypt has made headlines across the world: People have been killed outside the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis, the Intercontinental Semiramis Hotel on the Nile was stormed following many days of clashes right outside the hotel, and the burning of several buildings occurred across Egypt. Yet, what the media tends to forget is that lots of violence in Egypt is centred around certain locations and does not extend for more than a few kilometres. Although the storming of the Semiramis was unusual, it was expected considering the violence that had been raging for days just meters outside the hotel.
Most trusted/well-known travel companies will put your security above any other aspect, and are likely to choose hotels and tourist attractions that do not put your life in danger. If you’re travelling with a major tour group, it is also likely that the Interior Ministry/Tourism Ministry will provide you with a convoy and armed security guards to accompany you. It is therefore imperative that you travel to Egypt with a trusted/well-known travel company/guide – do not hire a local guide unless you know for certain that you can trust him.
If you’re not even visiting Cairo (perhaps going to the Red Sea or taking the Nile Cruise to Luxor and Aswan) then there is very little to worry. Cities other than Cairo (and obviously Suez and Port Said at the moment) are much safer and the locals there are very hospitable – besides, most of Egypt’s beauty lies outside the capital city.
However, you should be aware of using public transport – such as local taxis and micro buses – outside Cairo, as the drivers tend to speed, thus putting your life in danger. It is therefore best to rely on the Hotel’s transportation, a private company, or on your travel company.
Overall, you should be able to witness all of Egypt’s treasures amid no security concerns at all. Tourists are always welcome in Egypt despite the turbulent changes that the country may be undergoing.
If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact me on https://www.facebook.com/EgyptianStreets or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
www.egypttoday.co.za for tours to Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, India, Russia.