Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Is it safe to go to Dahab?
Every day our travel guru answers your travel questions
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 06 November 2012
Q I’ve booked a holiday to Dahab for the middle of November, but am concerned about the rising threat of terrorist attacks on Western tourists. The travel agents say I will lose all my money if I wish to cancel. I would like to swap to another destination but the tour operator, First Choice, won’t allow this. Is it safe to travel? I haven’t had a holiday for years but I am worried about my safety.
A At the weekend, concerns about the safety of holidaymakers to Egypt were raised once again. The Foreign Office stepped up its warning about travel to the south of the Sinai Peninsula, which is where the majority of British tourists go. Your destination, Dahab, is in this area, close to the border with Israel. The latest FCO advice says holidaymakers should stick to the resorts, the main road connecting them, and airport links. The main fear is that armed gangs may abduct Western visitors. You should not venture inland to a couple of popular tourist attractions: Mount Sinai (also known as “Mount Moses”) and St Catherine’s Monastery – by monastic tradition, the location for the Biblical burning bush.
If the Foreign Office warns “against all but essential travel” or “against all travel” to a location, tour operators such as First Choice are obliged to cancel holidays and offer alternative trips or refunds (with the customer having the final choice). In the absence of such advice, British visitors booked to travel have no right to cancel or switch.
From my experience in Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt over the past few years, I would not hesitate to visit this fascinating location – and I would be more concerned about road safety than the risk of terrorism.
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