Avoiding Egypt

Going to Egypt to see the sights in the Valley of the Kings has always been a “bucket list” item for me. The beauty and awesome antiquity of the remnants of the Egypt of the Pharaohs exerts an irresistible attraction.

Sadly, I now question whether I’ll ever scratch off that bucket list item — and apparently I’m not alone. Since Egypt has fallen into a crisis involving the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups, with leaders being deposed and jailed and street clashes and deaths at demonstrations often in the news, governments have warned about travel to Egypt and tourists have avoided it. In September, tourism was down almost 70% from 2012, and in October — the most recent month for which statistics seem to be available — tourism was down 52% over the prior year.

Tourism is one of the largest segments of the Egyptian economy and one of the largest producers of foreign currency. I am sure that there are many people in Egypt — cab drivers, tour guides, street peddlers, and others — who are suffering due to the sharp drop in tourism. So why would prominent Egyptians be making public statements that simply exacerbate tourist concerns about safety and security? Recently, for example, an Egyptian editor speculated that the United States government might try to assassinate General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the general who ousted the Mohamed Morsi government last summer, and helpfully added that if such an attempt were made, Egyptians would rise up in a “revolution to kill the Americans in the streets.” Not surprisingly, the editor later tried to backtrack from his inflammatory statements and said that his remarks were about terrorism and that he bears no hostility to Americans.

American tourists aren’t idiots, and a half-hearted explanation isn’t going to cure the fact that such bloody rhetoric was used in the first place. If you like to travel, your bucket list of destinations probably is a long one. There are plenty of interesting faraway places to visit where you don’t need to worry that your visit might put your life in danger. Right now, the prevailing sense is that Egypt isn’t one of them.

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3 thoughts on “Avoiding Egypt

  1. Say home then, chicken. I am going in March. I used to live there 10 years. Of course I am not stupid enough to go to places where demonstrations are going on. Egypt is in the throes of a rebirth. I would NOT go with a group of loud mouthed tourists, who do not know enough to dress properly in a Muslim country. When I lived in Egypt between 1990 – 2000, I was always embarrassed with stupid women wearing tee shirts without bras, where their nipples were plainly visible and short shorts! Yes it happened. As for that journalist everyone in Egypt is furious at him. I keep in constant touch with several friends, both foreign and Egyptian, who tell me what is going on. I suggest you do not live your life in fear. You are going to die someday. I never let fear rule me! The hell with your bucket list.

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    • Perhaps I am being a chicken, but I prefer to think I’m just being prudent. There are many things I hope to see in the world, and I can focus on other locations while Egypt, I hope, settles down.

      I wish you the best on your trip and hope you have a wonderful, safe, time.

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