Political unrest in Egypt is clearly unsettling for tourism in that country especially as the demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan and Suez and other parts of Egypt are occurring in the midst of Egypt’s peak tourist season
There are far better informed people than I to discuss and analyse the political implications of current events in Egypt but I would like to share some of the advice I have given to members of the Eastern Mediterranean Tourism Association (Australia) which could be of value to your clients in Egypt or those intending to travel there.
1. Ensure you and your staff members are well versed in the travel advice given
in your country’s travel advisories
2, Many government Foreign Affairs Ministries have a facility for travellers to all foreign destinations, including Egypt or those intending to travel to register their presence in Egypt and contact details. Encourage them and even urge them to register in the unlikely event that travellers may need to be evacuated by their government of citizenship from Egypt.
3, Ensure your clients travelling to Egypt are covered by appropriate travel insurance.
4. If you are a tour operator obtain updated and factual information on the status of your clients and programs from your ground operator in Egypt and ensure such information is shared with all your reservation staff. and passed on to travel agents who are booking with you so that they in turn, can properly inform clients and their families As the situation in Egypt is fluid you may have to do this on a daily basis while the situation remains uncertain.
5, Ascertain whether it is possible to change or cancel client travel arrangements free of penalties should the need arise.
6. If the media contacts you only give information you are certain of and if you do talk to the media only do so in relation to your own clients and programs.
7. I had a look at the Egyptian Tourism Authority’s website today and note with concern that there is no reference to the current problems in Egypt. Its not for me to speculate on why this is occurring but I think all stakeholders in Egyptian tourism have the right to insist that the ETA clarifies the situation in Egypt and it implications for tourism and which. Regions of Egypt one should avoid and which regions are safe.
8. Airline schedules are in a state of flux and confusion, especially in and out of Cairo.
9. It is important to understand that demonstrations in specific parts of Egypt does not mean all of Egypt has become a no go zone. However, travel professionals should be cautious about relying only on the media as your source of information and you need to establish which regions of Egypt remain relatively safe to visit.
Most tour operators and airlines are aware of the above points. However if you are a traveller to Egypt or a travel agent with clients either in Egypt or travelling to Egypt your tour operators your tour operators is most likely you first point of information.
David Beirman is a Senior Lecturer- Tourism University of Technology-Sydney and is also the National Secretary of the Eastern Mediterranean Tourism Association (Australia)