Egypt is Open for Tourism

| January 2, 2012 | 37 Comments

Walking around the base of the Pyramids or through the Valley of Kings you expect to be confronted by photographs filled with tourists.

But at the moment there is only open space.

Pyramids of Giza in Cairo Egypt


Why are tourists not visiting some of the most awe-inspiring sights in the world?

Because of the Media.

When it is said that “all news is good news” it doesn’t apply to the Arab Spring and Revolutions that have spread like wildfire through the Middle East over the past 12 months.

And the media continues to report on an Egypt that is “at war” and fighting in the streets. While the reality is completely different.

Egypt is currently without a ruler as they have recently toppled their current dictator. With elections planned for the middle of this year there is unfortunately still a feeling of unrest and disquiet across the country. But unrest doesn’t mean that there are tanks rolling across the squares. In fact we didn’t see or encounter anything that worried us even after visiting Tahir Square on New Years day.

Everyone continues to go about their daily business and get on with their lives.

We spoke to a number of local Egyptians in Cairo, Luxor and Hurghada and they are all very optimistic about the future for Egypt. The only problem being that one of their largest money spinners, tourism, is currently hurting. And hurting bad.

We have just returned from exploring Egypt over a 10 day period and were gobsmacked by how few tourists there were in the country. The lack of tourists is really taking its toll.

Our tour guide said that their bookings are well down over previous years. And local businesses and tourist operators are really struggling to fill the gap left by a usually booming industry.

The reports before we left were still mentioning that there were riots in the streets and that tourists should avoid travelling to Egypt unless absolutely necessary.

Well we are telling you now, it IS absolutely necessary.

It is necessary because the local Egyptian people want and NEED tourists to return. The sooner that happens the better.

Our tour was fantastic because we were able to take amazing photos without the crowds, never had to queue and were offered discounts (upon the already shamefully cheap prices) on everything.

I have never met a friendlier bunch of locals who just wanted to welcome us to Egypt. Sure we had the louts who tried to sell you everything under the sun. But even after you would refuse to buy something or ignored them they would still say just one thing time and time again.

“Thank you for coming and welcome. Make sure you tell ALL your friends that Egypt is open for business”.

Well that and being offered 200,000 camels at every attraction for Adela.

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (37)

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  1. Ha, the touts in Egypt are notoriously bad, and I’ve read that since there are fewer tourists for them to harass it’s become even more intense in recent months. I still wouldn’t mind, though – Egypt is definitely on our list for 2012!

    • Cole says:

      Maybe thats why they were so pushy! We just assumed they were like that every time. You get used to it pretty quickly though and “La Shokran” works like a charm. If you want some tips then let us know 🙂

  2. Sam says:

    Less tourists is certainly a bonus, wish I could get over there right now!

  3. Went to Egypt in early 2011 and had a great time. It’s tough seeing everything that is going on right now but I’m hoping they can get through it as a stronger nation.

    • Cole says:

      Everyone we talked to were super positive about what the future holds. Just have to see how they get on with the elections which are happening right now.

  4. I am so glad you were able to go and share your experiences. 🙂

  5. Thanks for writing this. I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t plan on going to Egypt any time soon because of everything that they saw on the news last spring. Like you said, life goes on, everywhere. And people forget that when they get one image stuck in their head.
    As far as travel goes, I don’t think anywhere should be written off completely. Sure, consider your comforts, but don’t just say no to a place. It’s possible to be hurt, injured or killed anywhere in the world, even your hometown. If we all focused only on the bad that happens around the world than honestly no one should go anywhere. And that would suck.
    There was an advisory on the Philippines when I visited last year. It’s been in place for ages, but I’m not sure if it still is. Anyway, if I had listened to that, I would have missed out on two of the greatest months of my life.
    Good and bad exist everywhere in the world, just be mindful of it.

    • Cole says:

      No problem Bobbi. I think it is a shame when there is a huge misunderstanding or something is blown out of proportion as someone will always suffer. Egypt was perfectly safe in our minds and we walked and travelled basically everywhere. Sure we took precautions, but as you say, you always should when you are travelling whether it is in your own town or somewhere foreign!
      I am glad you still headed to the Philippines after advised not too.

  6. Elle Croft says:

    I’m so glad you shared this! My hubby and I are planning a trip to Egypt in the second half of this year and just last night we had the discussion about whether it’s safe – we only have the media to go off, but hearing your first-hand account is really encouraging. We will be going for sure!!! Thanks for sharing…

    • Cole says:

      No problem Elle. I can show you pictures of Tahir Square which we crossed over several times. No more than a few tents just like the Occupy movements around the world at the moment! Maybe I need a little disclaimer on here though…

  7. Rob says:

    You’ve managed to get to Egypt at a great time. It must be wonderful to see these historic places without the normal number of tourists.

    We’re off to Sharm in April but probably won’t head out of the resort. Really looking forward to going back again.

    • Cole says:

      Rob you must get out of the resort! You will be missing out on so much if you don’t head outside. Unless you are planning to do lots of diving? Then fair enough cause that was phenomenal too.

  8. We were in line to go on a press trip last year right before the resurgence of the protests in the square, so it’s nice to hear that you didn’t experience anything negative during your visit. Hopefully the Tourism Board will start reaching out to media again soon so we can spread the story that Egypt is open for business and eager to show visitors the wonders of their beautiful country.

    • Cole says:

      That’s a shame Bret. Hope they do speak with you again soon. The elections have been taking place so hopefully there will be a bit of stability soon. We are heading back through their again in May for a trip so should be good.

  9. cheryl says:

    Well said! I hope this post will help more people decide to get up and head over to Egypt.

  10. karen says:

    I am a regular visitor to Luxor and have been visiting for the last 14 years. In all the years I have been visiting I have been shown nothing but kindness and friendship. This Saturday January the 7th, whilst walking in broad daylight, on the main corniche. I was attacked by two males on a motorcycle from behind, who wanted my bag. Luckily I had the sense to let go of my bag as they were dragging me along the floor.

    A German lady had exactly the same thing happen to her an hour earlier further down the road.

    Locals are suffering from high crime rates as well, and I noticed a shop Monday morning selling guns just down from the train station.

    There are very few police on the streets and the ones that are present are uninterested in what is going on around them.

    Egypt is a beautiful country and I am not posting this to scare people or stop them from going, because believe me people are dying of hunger over there because of lack of work.

    I want people to be fully informed about what is actually happening in Luxor before they go.

    • Cole says:

      I am sorry you had such a bad experience there Karen. But as you rightly pointed out, you have been going there for 14 years and only had one incident the entire time. I think if it had happened more then maybe you wouldn’t go back. I personally think that these sorts of things can happen anywhere in the world. I know friends that have been mugged in broad daylight in New Zealand, UK, USA and all around Europe etc. Unfortunately it happens but it is no reason to stop going to a country in my opinion. You just have to be careful anywhere you are these day. Thanks for sharing and I hope you give Egypt another chance.

  11. AlexBerger says:

    I’m torn. On the one hand I’d love to get to Egypt in 2012 and as an Arizonan who has put up with the nonsense reporting about the AZ/Mexico border and how “unsafe” it is for years, I’m sympathetic to overblown media reports.

    On the other hand, I’ve been generally disgusted by what I’ve seen from the new transitional (or not so) Government in Egypt. At this point my resistance is less about safety concerns and more about political disgust. At the same time, I feel a bit guilty in that only compounds the pain for the people themselves, ehh?

    • Cole says:

      Agree with you there Alex. We have second guessed travelling to destinations purely out of disgust at how their government (or lack of) have treated the people. Unfortunately a lot of Egypt NEEDS tourists so feel that this overrules that reason for not going just like you mentioned! Hope you do get a chance to visit soon 😉

    • Yep Alex, that is the problem for me right now. I was in Egypt shortly after the Feb revolution last year. Love the country. But as I wrote about it a few weeks ago, I can’t support any of my tourist dollars going to a government that is brutally killing its peacefully protesting citizens in the street. Hope it gets better soon for everyone there, but can’t support tourism there right now, just as I couldn’t support it to another country I love Syria. Really hope both situations improve soon.

      • Cole says:

        Thanks Michael for the insight. It definitely hurts to see money going to the wrong hands but hopefully (fingers crossed) with a new government we are going to see some major changes for the better in Egypt. We are heading to Syria in a few months so hopefully it will have improved over that time as well.

  12. This is great news for me, I will be in Egypt at the end of the week, for a MONTH!

  13. Cara says:

    We are looking to book a trip to Cairo and a river cruise down the Nile for May 25 – June 2, 2012. The elections are May 23-24th. Now we are not sure if that is a good idea. Cole you said you are going in May? Are you concerned about this?

    • Cole says:

      Hey Cara thanks for reading! Unfortunately our plans changed and we are no longer travelling to Egypt again (not because of any unrest). We would definitely still be going if we didn’t have other commitments. Especially if you are just having an amazing time on a Nile cruise. If you have any other questions then please get in touch 🙂

  14. Alexandra says:

    Lack of tourist at some of the world’s most famous sites is definitely a valid reason to visit Egypt ASAP! Thanks for sharing your experiences and showing once again that we only see the worst of a country on the news.

    • It’s a shame how some places get portrayed in the news. Everywhere we went we felt completely safe and it is a shame that people change their plans based on bias and factually inaccurate reports.

  15. Thanks for sharing. I am wondering how bad/good Egypt is now (a year later) after a new wave of violence.
    memographer recently posted..A Walk in Christmasy New York

  16. Great post!
    It’s amazing how many people won’t go somewhere based on what they hear in the media. If we lived by the news, we’d never go anywhere…except maybe Canada 🙂

    We were in Egypt in March, 2011 just at the end of the Revolution, the day before Mubarak stepped down. We had such a great time during our 6 weeks in Egypt. The people were fantastic and we had every site to ourselves!! Literally no tourists anywhere.

    Go to Egypt people, it’s amazing!

    Cheers for the post.

  17. Egypt is now save, specially the beach holiday areas on the Red Sea like Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Taba and Hurghada.
    Cairo is also save, for more safety you may have to avoid Friday afternoon, specially the places of the demonstrations, If it exists.

    The tourist can even enjoy the fantastic historical sites of Cairo from these other cities like Sharm el Sheikh through day trips from Sharm el Sheikh to Cairo.
    Go Sharm Tours recently posted..Swimming with Dolphins

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