Egypt Independent

Despite green lights from embassies, tourists still avoid Egypt



According to the guidebook Lonely Planet, the queues outside the Egyptian Museum can be hours long. Just a few steps away from the unrest at Tahrir Square lies the large museum, which contains some of the greatest Egyptian archaeological findings. It's a must-see for tourists – but there are not too many these days.

Since the revolution in January and February, the number of tourists filling the streets of Cairo, Sharm el-Sheikh and Alexandria has dropped significantly. Tourism officials say that hotels in Cairo are operating at barely 35 percent of capacity, despite most embassies lifting travel warnings in March and April.

The American, French and Swedish embassies in Cairo are no longer recommending people stay away from Egypt. The Swedish Embassy ended its travel warning in February, making it one of the first embassies to do so.

“We don’t advise Swedes against coming here," says Helmer Broberg from the Swedish Embassy in Cairo. "And since Swedes like to come to Egypt, we hope that tourism soon will be back to pre-revolutionary levels and increase even further.”

A few tourists who visited the Egyptian Museum two weeks ago said there's not much to warn against.

"We have felt safe here and have had no reason to be afraid of anything," said Wilma Bervoets, a Dutch tourist. She is traveling through Egypt and Jordan with her husband and children. They had some reservations about the trip, which was planned before the unrest shook the country, but ultimately decided not to cancel.

“We planned this trip since November last year, so we had some concerns about going. But in the end we decided that it would be safe enough. And I think it is,” she says.

An Egyptian woman who now lives in the UK echoes Bervoets' view. She is here to show her two young sons the country she grew up in. Her only worries about coming to Cairo concerned her children, but she hasn't experienced anything that made either her or her sons uncomfortable since she arrived.

“If you follow Western safety guidelines it’s no more dangerous than London. I feel safe here,” she says.