Once again, Egypt is making headline news as President Mohammed Mursi aims to maximize his power, and stabilize Egypt. Not a popular move among some, and there are lots of protests taking place, mainly in the urban centers. So, is it safe to travel to Egypt right now?
I was asked the same question a year and a half ago, because the streets of Egypt were ablaze, and the US Department of State had not issued an official "Travel Warning". That's what happens when there's politics involved. However, being cautious before saying "don't go" is smart since many Egyptians rely on tourism to earn a living. An off the cuff remark about lack of safety can do a lot of unnecessary damage (think Kenya in 2008). So, is it safe to travel to Egypt?
In my humble opinion, if you have a Nile cruise booked, or a Red Sea beach holiday on the horizon, then I think the security risks remain quite low. However, unless you take a charter flight from Europe, you will be passing through Cairo, and it's a little combustible right now. I would also avoid soccer matches and anything that looks remotely like a political rally.
The revolution has brought a lot of change, but it is an ongoing process. And what generally tends to happen when you overthrow a dictatorship is that the crazy security system they upheld to stay in power, also goes out the window. Hence incidents like last February (2102) when an emotional soccer match ends up in a tragedy. Not spending time in Cairo or Alexandria at this time, is what I would advise, but then you miss out on the Egyptian Museum and the Pyramids. That's a shame.
If I was booked on a trip to Egypt right now, I would check the news, and the US Department of State travel advisories. Also check other countries' foreign offices like Canada or Australia, that have less to lose politically by announcing travel warnings. Also, call the agency that booked you. Their people on the ground will have the best idea of what's safe. And if there is a travel advisory issued, here's what to do...
Image of Protester at Demonstrations In Cairo Following Football Stadium Deaths, February 2012 - © Getty Images/Ed Giles