The U.S. Department of State issued warnings for U.S. citizens to stay away from Egypt when the revolution began in Cairo. European countries and others around the world did the same. In the meantime, thousands of resorts and hotels remained empty while Egypt lost anywhere from $1 billion to $2.5 billion, depending on who gave the estimate of revenue lost. It is known that the country depends on tourism since it accounts for 10 percent of the country’s GDP. In addition, one out of eight Egyptians works in the service industry that caters to tourism, so workers felt the pain of no paycheck. The country’s dependence on tourism indicated that the violence would not last very long.
The Department of State declared that it is now safe to visit Egypt, as long as Americans do not take part in protests. Tours originating from the U.S. that were postponed or rescheduled have resumed. European countries and others have also lifted their warnings. The Red Sea resort areas were not affected by the revolution, and the areas of Luxor and Aswan were calm as well. Those from the U.S. and U.K. who have visited since the revolution has calmed down say that the tourist areas, and even museums in Cairo, are even better than they were before the revolution. This is because the low numbers of tourists means that there are no crowds to fight to get into the prime spots that they visit. In addition, hotel rates are lower because owners are thankful the have the few guests who are touring in Egypt.
It is possible to take a tour and visit the Pyramids that are almost empty due to lack of tourists. The restaurants surrounding the Pyramids are empty as well. Before the revolution, an average of 10,200 to 20,000 tourists walked the sand to see the amazing triangular marvels. Now, less than a dozen visitors have been daring enough to take the tour. Camel guides and their camels march upon the sand with empty saddles, and there are no lines of visitors waiting for rides in Giza. When the few tourists do appear at the Pyramids, many peddlers and others overwhelm them with offers to buy cheap souvenirs. One German tourist reported that he had a drink shoved into his hand by a vendor who then demanded that he pay money for it.
In Cairo, tanks with armed soldiers standing guard are a common sight. Tourists can have their photo taken with one of the tanks in the background, but most visitors have stayed near the hotels and museums in the city. Tanks are also present in front of banks and near the McDonald’s that was destroyed during the revolution. Protests against the government of President Husn e Mubarik are still taking place, and this is keeping most tourists out of Egypt. Airlines have refunded airfare to most of those who planned trips to the country. Airlines warned travelers to make only absolutely necessary trips to the country, and to put tourism off until complete peace is restored to the country. The past acts of terrorism that involved tourists are not easily forgotten, such as when Greek tourists were attacked by terrorists outside a Cairo hotel in 1996, the Luxor Massacre in 1997, or the 2010 bombing of a Christian church in Alexandria. Other incidents have happened as well, making many tourists think twice about visiting the country.
Those planning to visit Luxor may want to think again. Recently residents of the area blocked the road to the Luxor airport, making it impossible for travelers to get through. Tour companies realize that the revolution is not completely over, and although they may be scheduling tours, few tourists are booking trips at this time. Egyptian tourism will return to normal, but as for now, it appears to be best to avoid the area.