Foreign Office relaxes Egypt travel restrictions

The UK Foreign Office relaxed its travel advice for Egypt last Friday, after urging travellers in July to avoid all but essential travel to the entire country, except for the Red Sea resorts, including Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab and Hurghada, The Telegraph has reported.

With the relaxation of restrictions, British holidaymakers can now plan their travel to destinations including Aswan, Abu Simbel, Alexandria and Luxor. However, the Office still warns travellers to avoid travel to large parts of the country, including the Governorates of Cairo (including Greater Cairo and the Giza Pyramids), Bani Suef, Minya, Asyut and Sohag.

The Office also advises against travel to the Sinai peninsula, excluding the Red Sea resorts, ‘due to the significant increase in criminal activity and recent terrorist attacks on police and security forces’.

‘Our travel advice for Egypt has now changed in line with the reduction in the level of violence,’ the Foreign Office said in a statement. ‘We continue to urge British Nationals already in Egypt to follow the instructions of the local authorities and obey curfews where they are in place. There remains a high threat from terrorism throughout Egypt. This has not changed.’

At the annual World Travel Market convention in London last week, Omayma El Husseini from the Egyptian State Tourist Office, said that she was hopeful that the Foreign Office’s restriction would be lifted in full.

Hisham Zaazou, the Egyptian tourism minister, said: ‘More than 18 countries have lifted the travel advisory on Luxor and Aswan. As soon as the Foreign Office revises its travel advice for the UK, we will work tirelessly with our valued media, travel agent and tour operator partners to communicate that the whole of Egypt is open.’

‘[We are using] the latest visual technologies such as webcams and mobile apps to show exactly what is happening on the ground in Egypt now,’ he added.

The Foreign Office first issued its travel advisory in July, as a result of the violence following the ousting of Mohamed Morsi. The move forced many travel firms across the UK, which typically follow the Foreign Office’s recommendations, to put package trips on hold. Independent travellers had the option to travel to the region, but have faced issues obtaining adequate insurance.

With the relaxation, travel operators will now be able to resume their tours, subject to the instructions by the Foreign Office and local authorities.