News: Row over Egypt advice

The best deals, the latest hot spots and what's new in travel
Click to follow
The Independent Travel

Shortly after last Saturday's bombings in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh, the Government revised its travel advice. It warns of a "high threat of terrorism" in Egypt. But the alert stopped short of urging tourists to avoid the country altogether.

The Foreign Office has two levels of blacklisting: warning against "all but essential travel", which currently includes Haiti, Togo, the Central African Republic and Liberia, and "all travel" - currently covering Ivory Coast and Somalia. These warnings have no legal force, but when a country is placed off-limits by the Foreign Office, tour operators normally bring back holidaymakers, and offer refunds to people booked to travel. Independent travellers are still free to visit the country, but their travel insurance will usually be rendered invalid.

"I'm delighted that they haven't stopped people going to Egypt," said Mr Goldstein. "If you throw a travel ban at somewhere, you succeed in breeding enormous hardship and in some cases discontent. But there must be uniformity."

In the wake of the Bali bombing in 2002, the entire nation of Indonesia, with 13,000 islands, was blacklisted by the Foreign Office for 18 months. Following an attack on Israeli tourists in Mombasa, Kenya was put on the danger list for three months. Yet Egypt, which has a long history of terrorist attacks aimed at tourists, remains an approved destination.

The Foreign Office insists that its "paramount concern" is the safety of British travellers, and that travel advice is based purely on objective assessments of the risks to UK nationals It says the decision to advise against travel is made only when the risk is considered "unacceptably high". The Foreign Office says "We are keenly aware of the knock-on effects of such strong advice. However, ultimately trade or political considerations cannot be allowed to influence the advice."

In contrast, the US State Department is advising its citizens to steer clear of the location for recent attacks: the south of the Sinai peninsula, and "crowded tourist destinations in Cairo".

Travel advice: 0870 606 0290; www.fco.gov.uk/travel

FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS have stepped up their warnings about visiting London after the attacks on the capital earlier this month. New Zealand's foreign affairs ministry warned its nationals that "further terrorist attacks are feasible and could well occur".

The Canadian foreign ministry predicted that the effect of the attacks would spread well beyond the UK: "Travellers can expect increased police presence and security at major airports and throughout transportation networks in western Europe."

Comments