The slow trickle of tourists back to Egypt is hugely welcome in a country where the great bulk of the economy is dependent on tourism. But then, just as a few more river boats started plying the ancient waterways of the Nile, the Egyptian government puts the skids under the whole industry with a series of actions that are inexplicable to most western minds.
Mass death sentences, not to mention the bizarre imprisonment of a trio of Al-Jazeera journalists simply for doing their job, has cast the new, military government of General Sisi in a particularly baleful light. At the very least, this looks like a brutal, knee jerk reaction that could potentially impact the tourism trade right when it is at it’s most vulnerable.
That said, the main concerns that travellers in general are raising right now is, quite simply; Is Egypt safe?
Here’s some general observations of mine, based on a week long cruise I did down the Nile in late March of this year.
Firstly, at the airports, and at all stops along our route, there was a conspicuous, highly visible presence of both the police, and the Egyptian military. At no time during my week in Egypt did I feel anything but totally safe and at ease.
Naturally, this high profile presence is intended to reassure foreigners visiting the country. With so much of Egypt’s GDP deriving directly from tourism, the country simply cannot afford to appear complacent in any respect.
The security did not only apply to the obvious, headline tourist sites. Roads leading to and from airports, and strategic crossroads in all the main times, had a permanent presence of military, police, or even both.
Of course, the levels of begging are another matter, and long since a bane of any holiday to Egypt. It is now so intense that many shopkeepers are actually doing themselves out of potential sales with their relentless attempts at pleading and selling by turns.
It has to be understood that this comes from a place of total financial desperation. When the tourist trade to Egypt collapsed, so did the incomes of literally millions of ordinary people. Never millionaires at the best of times, the straits that these poor people find themselves in staggers belief.
But it has to be stressed that this is more annoying than threatening. If, like me, you have always wanted to see the fabled treasures and mind boggling monuments of this storied land, then there has probably never been a better time to do so than right now.
Tourist numbers are right down, so seeing the sights is easier than ever. The weather is great and yes, you are safe when you go there.
And I very much doubt you will regret such a trip. Enjoy.