Should I travel to Egypt?

October 24, 2019

As a result of political uncertainty and long-standing regional tensions, certain parts of Egypt are deemed to be unsafe for British nationals by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

So, if you're considering booking a holiday to Egypt, there are a few things you'll need to consider in advance. Read on for the latest FCO safety and travel advice.

Is it safe to go to Egypt?

Generally speaking, this depends where you intend to go.

The FCO advises against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai and all but essential travel to the areas west of the Nile Valley and Nile Delta regions and South Sinai – with the exception of the area within the Sharm el-Sheikh perimeter barrier, which includes the airport and the areas of Sharm el Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq.

Cairo, Giza and many other popular tourist resorts remain open, with business as normal, including the Red Sea resort area of Hurghada. Other destinations, including Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings, are also open to tourism.

Ultimately, for these areas that the FCO does not advise against travelling to, the decision to go or not is yours and yours alone – no one can give an absolute guarantee of safety in Egypt (which is the same for many countries around the world).

Bear in mind, however, that unless the FCO changes its advice to “avoid all but essential travel or avoid all travel” to the area you are visiting, it is unlikely you will be able to cancel your booking without losing money.

Can I travel to Sharm el-Sheikh?

On October 22, 2019, a four-year ban on all direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh was lifted by the UK government, meaning airlines can now operate routes to and from the airport again.

The ban followed the crash of a Russian Metro aircraft on October 31, 2015.

It may take a little time for flights and package holidays to resume but Egypt specialist, Red Sea Holidays, has said that it will run its first charter flights into Sharm el-Sheikh on December 22, with weekly flights with Enter Air to follow throughout winter from Gatwick.

Why was the ban lifted?

The FCO says that improvements in security procedures at the airport, and close co-operation between the UK and Egypt on aviation security mean flights can now resume.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport said: "We look forward to services to Sharm el-Sheikh resuming, and lifting the restriction is the first step in that process.

"The safety and security of British nationals remains our top priority and this decision follows close co-operation between our aviation security experts and their Egyptian counterparts, and improvements in security procedures at the airport.

"We will now work closely with airlines who wish to resume flights to and from the airport."

I have a holiday booked to Egypt – can I cancel my booking?

It is unlikely you will be able to cancel your booking without losing money unless the FCO changes its advice to “avoid all but essential travel or avoid all travel” to the area you are visiting.  

I have made independent arrangements to travel to the country – do I have any rights?

If you cancel your trip you may lose money if the travel company you have booked with is not offering free cancellations on its arrangements. Independent travellers with future bookings should contact their airline and hotel companies to discuss options open to them.

You may wish to consult your travel insurance company to ensure that your policy is still valid.

What if I travel to parts of Egypt against the advice?

If you decide to go to areas the FCO advises against visiting, any travel insurance cover you have will no longer be valid (unless you have taken out very specific insurance).

Please note: This is an updated version of a previously-published article. All facts were correct at the time of the most recent update (October 24, 2019).

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