I am booked to travel to Cairo, then take a tour on the Nile late next month. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smartraveller site states Australians should "reconsider the need to travel" to Egypt. I would like to know what the danger would be at the end of March and early April. The tour companies at this stage refuse to give refunds but given past situations like this, when is government advice likely to loosen up? We want to see the pyramids or else we could stay home and go to the Tut exhibition coming soon.
- M. Bower, Hawksburn, Victoria.
Gazing into my crystal ball, I predict the unrest in Egypt will have died down by the time you intend to travel. The US Tour Operators Association, which has a number of members that arrange tours to Egypt, agrees with me.
The Egyptian people have spoken and their big demand has been met, the military seems to be in charge and it's in everyone's interests to restore stability as soon as possible.
However, I'm not at all confident that DFAT will downgrade its travel advisory by late March. Extricating stranded travellers from trouble spots is difficult and costly and as a cautionary measure, DFAT tends to keep travel warnings in place for quite some time after situations such as this have eased.
Rather than relying on DFAT for the all-clear, I'd be inclined to make a judgment call based on the resumption of normal tourism activity. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (fco.gov.uk) is an excellent source of advice. Look to your travel agency, too - if there is any potential risk, it would not send you to Egypt because it could face the cost of getting you safely out in case of trouble.
Generally, if travellers visit a country with a DFAT warning, their insurance policy isn't invalidated.