It is good news for the people of Egypt that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is now allowing tourists to visit several more destinations in Egypt as well as Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. The ban is still in place for Cairo which might seem a little strange since there would appear to be many capital cities in the world that pose greater risks to tourists.
To the best of our knowledge, the number of foreign tourists killed or injured during the period since the fall of Mubarak is zero.
That is not to say Egypt is an entirely safe place to visit though. Just take a look at the following:
- In 2011, eleven Hungarian tourists were killed and 27 injured when a bus travelling at high speed went out of control on a ringroad in Hurghada.
- In 2010, eight US tourists were killed in a bus accident in Aswan
- In 2012 five Germans were killed in bus accidents in Sharm el Sheikh and two Russians killed in Hurghada
And the list goes on. These are not cases of tourists driving badly, or of accidents on poor roads in the desert – most of them happened simply on coach transfers from the airport to the hotel in resorts which are newly-built and have fairly good roads.
The crash of a bus into a train at a level-crossing last weekend has again highlighted the serious problems with Egypt’s railways. The government needs to address this issue urgently. They also need to look carefully at the standard of driving. Taming the Cairo traffic would be a Herculean task but surely it is not beyond the skills of a competent government to ensure that foreigners arriving at Sharm el Sheikh or Hurghada airports can be transferred just a few miles to their hotels without undue risk.
Accidents to foreign tourists happen in any country – but there are rather too many happening in Egypt. Unfortunately, at the moment, most tourists run a far greater risk of being injured through the bad driving of their coach driver than they do in any political disturbance.