2023 was looking like a boom year for travellers visiting Egypt. A record 10 million tourists visited the Middle Eastern country in the first eight months of the year. New museums opened up to welcome them, and a substantial increase in excavation activity saw many ancient sites newly uncovered for exploration.
But escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas has seen travellers cancel or postpone their trips to the region. Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean have removed Israel from their itineraries, in response to a significant increase in cancellations for cruises with Middle Eastern ports. The Egyptian government has put out statements trying to allay concerns, but tourism operators report that travellers are still reluctant to forge ahead with their plans.
So, is it still safe to travel to Egypt? Or are you better off delaying your plans to travel?
The first factor to consider is geography. Even though Israel and Egypt share a border, there is considerable distance between the conflict hot-spots and Egypt’s major tourist attractions. Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor are several hundred kilometres away from Gaza. So, for now, distance works in the traveller’s favour.
Secondly, most tourism operators are still servicing Egypt as normal. Flights to the region are still operating as planned, hotels and attractions in Egypt are still open for business, and tour operators still welcome visitors. If you have pre-booked your travel, you may not be entitled to a refund if you cancel due to your concerns about the Israel-Hamas conflict. You will need to speak to your provider directly, and review the terms and conditions of your booking to determine your eligibility for refund or credit.
Thirdly, and most importantly, you need to check the most up-to-date advice from your government regarding travel to Egypt. At the time of writing, the UK, US, and Australian governments all recommend reconsidering your need to travel to Egypt. They also instruct travellers to avoid certain areas (e.g., Egypt’s border with Libya) altogether. These warnings may invalidate travel insurance claims if you choose to travel to Egypt while the warnings are in effect.
Cancelling Your Trip
No one likes to cancel a trip, especially one to a bucket-list destination like Egypt. However, your safety and security must be paramount.
If you consider the factors above and determine that travel to Egypt isn’t safe for you at the moment, rescheduling your trip to a later date could turn into a positive. Use the extra time to research and plan ahead for everything you want to see and do.
You can also find local experiences that will sate your appetite for Egypt until it is safe to travel. You can take a virtual tour of the Great Pyramids, or check out the incredible new Ramses & The Gold Of The Pharaohs special exhibit at the Australian Museum (their accessibility is excellent). These experiences aren’t quite as good as being there – but they’re close!