Q: I have a holiday booked to Egypt. However, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, I am wondering if it is it safe to travel to Egypt.
A: Egypt has long been a popular hot spot for Brits offering ancient culture, the pyramids, and history as well as sun and sand holidays. Egypt shares a border with Israel and a short border with Gaza – the Rafa border – controlled by them.
Up to now Egypt has managed to avoid being drawn into the war between Israel and Hamas and has largely escaped disruption. Bombs have fallen near the Rafa border and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) mentions that on 8 October, two Israeli tourists were killed by a local police officer after he reportedly “discharged his personal firearm at the tourist group” at a site in the coastal city of Alexandria.
So at the time of writing, it’s business as usual. Airlines are still operating flights and holiday companies are still sending their clients to Egypt.
How far are Egypt’s holiday resorts from Israel?
Though Egypt and Israel share the short Rafa border of 12 kilometres (7.5 miles), Egypt is a vast country.
Egypt’s huge land mass stretches 1.1,002,450 km2 (387,050 sq mi) which makes it the 29th largest country in the world.
Tourist areas are quite a distance away. For instance, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt’s popular beach resort is 393 km (245 miles) away – around five hours away by car from the border with Gaza.
Those heading to Cairo, Alexandria, Hurghada and Luxor will be more than six hours away by car.
So, will my package holiday go ahead?
At this time package holidays are still going ahead. UK flights to Egypt are currently taking to the air. Their flight path passes over Italy to the Meditteranean as flights head to Egypt without entering Israeli air space. However, it is worth checking if there are any delays.
What if I want to postpone my trip to Egypt?
If you would like to postpone you may find that the agency you booked through, though not obliged to be, may be flexible. If they are this would be a good-will gesture since, in law, there is no basis to expect a refund either from the holiday company or to make a travel insurance claim.
This would change if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued a blanket “avoid all non-essential travel” advisory for Egypt. It has already done so for travel to Israel. In this case, you would be able to cancel your travel plans without penalty and get your money back.
What does the Foreign Office say about travel to Egypt?
The Foreign Office does not currently warn against travel to tourist destinations including Cairo, Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor, Aswan and Alexandria.
However, the FCDO advises against all travel to destinations anywhere within 20km of the Egypt-Libya border (except for the town of El Salloum, where it advises against all but essential travel) and the Governorate of North Sinai.
It advises travellers to “remain vigilant and exercise caution at tourist and religious sites, as well as public gatherings”.
You can find out more about those areas where you should not travel to in Egypt on the FCDO website.
Concern for friends and family
If you are concerned about friends or family, or need consular assistance call:
- British Embassy Cairo on + 20 (0)2 2791 6000