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Egyptian minister urges European nations to lift travel ban

Egyptian minister urges European nations to lift travel ban
12 Jun 2014

Hisham Zazou, the current Egyptian tourism minister, has urged European nations to re-think their travel advice relating to the country.

Currently, many governments are advising against all but essential travel to not only the big cities, but also popular resort areas - particularly in the south of the Sinai peninsula.

This is, naturally, having a devastating impact on the tourism industry in the nation, particularly in resorts such as Dahab and Nuweiba, which fall outside of the security zone around Sharm el Sheikh.

Speaking at a tourism convention aimed at relaunching Egypt as a destination for Italian travellers, Mr Zazou stressed: ‘Egypt is safe now, and it is time for European countries to remove that warning so that all the doors of tourism may be reopened.’

The latest round of advice recommending that tourists avoid the Sinai peninsula came after a bomb attack near the Israeli border in February. At the time, European governments claimed other similar incidents were imminent, but Mr Zazou pointed out that there have been no such attacks and that it is now time for Europe to rethink its policies relating to travel to Egypt.

He added: ‘We have done everything we had to do to ensure the safety of our guests, as I imagine European countries did for their own. No country is zero risk.’

The current advice (as of 12 June) from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is that it is safe to travel to much of Egypt, including Sharm el Sheikh and Cairo. However, all but essential travel is advised against for the rest of south Sinai, which covers Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba, and this is seriously damaging the tourism industry in these areas.

The Red Sea coast is a popular destination for all kinds of travellers, although one of the biggest draws to the region is the scuba diving. Ras Mohammed National Park, the wreck of the Thistlegorm and the Blue Hole in Dahab are among the best dive sites around the Sinai region.

FCO advice also recommends that tourists do not venture to several governorates in the centre of Egypt, although there are no travel restrictions on Luxor, Aswan or Abu Simbel.

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