Is It Safe to Travel to Egypt? Tour Operators Keep Eye on Cairo Protests

Tourism operators are keeping a close watch over Cairo, where violent demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule continue to shake up the capital city.

Many vacation-goers who booked travel to the popular destination are wondering if it is safe to travel to Egypt. So far, protests have stayed far away from popular tourism sites just outside of Cairo -- such as the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx -- but travel operators remain on high alert.

UPDATE: The State Department has issued a travel alert urging Americans to defer any non-essential travel to Egypt.

MSC Cruises has altered the upcoming calls on several of the company's ships to avoid Alexandria, diverting ships "[d]ue to the escalating violence in Egypt and for the safety of our guests." Travel giant Thomas Cook, a popular tourism operator in Britain, canceled all of its excursions to Cairo as a precautionary measure. As the violence continues, more operators may follow suit.

Protesters have flooded the streets of Cairo and the Egyptian army is out in full force. Internet has been disabled, several cell phone networks are down, and the president imposed a mandatory curfew. Yet as of Friday morning, the U.S. State Department has not issued any new advice for U.S. citizens planning to travel to Egypt.

Several other foreign governments have also issued travel advisories. The Dutch and Swedish governments advised against traveling to Cairo, Alexandria and Suez because of the demonstrations.

Canadian and Australian officials both recommended travelers exercise a "high degree of caution," while the British government advised vacationers who are poised to postpone trips to do so.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo advises Americans in that city to stay put in your home or hotel until the situation stabilizes. Visitors to Egypt are advised to monitor local news broadcasts, and ask tour guides and hotel officials about the location of any planned demonstrations.

Photo, James Buck, flickr
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